Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Interesting timeline

The Republic has a very interesting timeline of all the top stories in Mesa. Its funny how fast the year goes by and how sometimes things feel like they happened yesterday and other times they feel like they happened years ago.

I had forgotten that the Rawles pledge fiasco was already a year ago. Its seems like so much longer. One thing that really stuck out to me is that they listed the day that Griswold resigned to run for mayor, but they didn't list the day that Scott Smith or Claudia Walters announced or the day that Pat Gilbert or Tom Freestone announced they were getting out. What is that about?

Mesa Shoplifter Caught

Well, call it Youtube justice - the guy caught on tape shoplifting from the cigar store has been caught. The article is not clear if the person who reported finding one of the watches even had seen the Youtube video, but its good that perhaps criminals will think twice before stealing stuff.

The guy should be punished for his actions, but I also hope that he is able to get help for the meth addiction.

Fewer Traffic Deaths

Well, this is good news. Congratulations to the safe drivers, police, good luck and anyone else who has to do with this. Anything that can be done to make the roads safer is always a good thing in my mind.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to take a second to wish Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Early View of a Tribune endorsement perhaps?

I don't know how I missed this, but here is an interesting editorial from Jim Ripley talking about Mesa as a big city and heaping the kudos on Mayoral candidate Claudia Walters. In some ways, he is right, there has been a lot of progress in Mesa. The city is certainly not the backwoods that some people make it out to be. However, Ripley certainly seems to smooth over all of the rough patches.

While Walters would like us to get past it, I think that the budget and Mesa's current financial situation cannot be glossed over. The current budget is tens of millions short and the council is pushing a bond package with no citizen committee and no way to fund the operations of the stations they are building. Where is the big city thinking on that?

Riverview and Waveyard only came after two time consuming votes of the people and tremendous investments from their owners. If these happened in other "small" cities like Tempe or Scottsdale, I doubt that there would have had to be a vote. Its almost like its hard to get things done in Mesa. Things like Dana Park, Riverview, and Waveyard seem to happen in spite of the business climate, not because of it.

Finally, Ripley seems to be forgetting the kind of city that Mesa was. Christmas time makes me a little sad because it reminds me of the way Mesa used to be. We used to drive downtown and look at all of the decorations with the moving Snoopy and whatnot and then park and walk around the Temple. Then we would hop back in the car and drive around to all the different neighborhoods that would be filled with houses covered in Christmas lights. You don't really see much of that anymore outside the gated communities. Plus, Fiesta mall would be jumping with Christmas shoppers - which would help the tax revenues. Now, those people are down at Chandler Fashion Center or the new Gilbert shopping plazas.

I agree that Mesa is a big city, but I think its time that more people started acting like it. If they were, companies like MD Helicopters wouldn't be looking to leave. We wouldn't have a Mayor who everyone tells me has already checked out and a vice-mayor that sounds so defensive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Griswold gets a free pass

Well, as I suspected, candidate for Mesa Mayor Rex Griswold is let off the hook for his fundraising blunders. And we're surprised that people don't trust the city government?

The guy was 8 months late on a campaign finance violation.

As one of my commenters pointed out in my earlier entry and its also mentioned in the article, there was a chance that the cap could have been raised $590 a day for this violation. So taking the $6,120 number that I had guessed for the triple penalty, plus the $590 a day, and Claudia Walters and Scott Smith should have been able to raise something like $147,720 in additional funds without having to follow the regular limitations.

Instead, the City Attorney let him off with less than a slap on the wrist. No action was taken. None. Even when you are accidentally speeding, you still get a ticket. Whatever happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?

The county campaign finance manager said that she has seen nothing like it, yet its apparent okay to do in Mesa.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A victory for the will of West Mesa residents

West Mesa Neighors were successful in keeping another pawn shop out of their area, following a 5-2 council vote to deny the permit. I am not a huge fan of telling a business what they can and can't do, but I am also glad to see that citizen input is working and the council took a stand on something.

At least it wasn't one of those City of Phoenix deals, where the councilmember in question puts up the self-righteous fight only to get rolled by the other councilmembers in a carefully scripted ballet - the kind of thing you read about in blog entries like this.

Perhaps its time for pawnshop owners to reach out to members of the community and listen to the types of things that they would like to see. If nothing else, they should do a better job to educate them on the type of people who use pawn shops - because as long as perception is bad, they are going to continue this fight.

At the same time, neighbors need to respect property rights and start offering input and creative solutions for business owners. Mesa can't afford to allow the neighbors to continue to say no to business. We can't have these projects and others such as the Lowe's come back every 6 months or so because people don't want them.


Congratulations to Deb Duvall who was named Superintendent of the Year. She has done a great job to maintain the very positive tradition that Mesa Public Schools has in our community and in our state. Between this and Moutain View being named one of the top schools in the country, its been a good week for MPS - there's no better place to learn.

Go Suns!

What can I say, I am a hometown kind of person. I was glad to see that the Suns were able to top the Spurs last night handing them their first home loss of the season. This is good news especially since this was not a statistically superior game.

Glad to see that they can use a little less finesse and a little more grit to get the job done. Now, lets see if they could do that 4 times in a 7 game series. I want to say yes, but I still have my doubts.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rex Griswold makes campaign finance error

Did anyone else catch this story about Rex Griswold's campaign finance error today? Gee, it was awfully nice of Claudia Walters to point out error - too bad he didn't figure it out himself. If he thought he was getting close to the limit, he should have asked someone.

Instead, he went over the limit, and then when he was caught, he claims that the laws are "murky." I know its not that big of a deal, but how about a little accountability? He fixed the error by paying himself back - so that must mean he doesn't want to blow the cap off for anyone else.

Here is a funny line from one of the commenters named mesaazusa:

"I'm shocked! A Mesa City Councilman, over-budget, spending money in ways he shouldn't, and shifting funds around to cover his tracks! I'm shocked, I tell you, I'm shocked!"

Now, I am not a lawyer, but I looked at the Arizona Statutes, and I think I found the applicable law in 16-905:

F. The use of a candidate's personal monies is not subject to the limitations of this section but affects the application of these limitations to the candidate's opponents as follows:

1. For a candidate for an office other than a statewide office:
(a) If a candidate contributes or promises amounts of more than fifteen thousand six hundred seventy dollars of those personal monies, the candidate, within twenty-four hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and other legal holidays, shall give written notice by certified mail of the amount contributed or promised as of the date of the notice to all other candidates and the candidates' campaign committees for the same office at the address on file with the filing officer and to the filing officer. Other candidates for the same office and contributors to those candidates are not subject to the limitations of subsections A, C and E of this section after receiving the notice until these candidates receive contributions totaling the amount of personal monies contributed or promised by the candidate giving this notice.

Jumping down a bit, I think that this pretty much lays out the punishment:

P. If any notice prescribed by subsection F or G of this section is not given in a timely manner, the designating individual, in the case of an exploratory committee, or the candidate, in the case of a candidate's campaign committee, is subject to a civil penalty of three times the amount of personal monies that were contributed, expended or promised in violation. The civil penalty shall be imposed as prescribed by section 16-924.

Maybe I am wrong here, but judging by the law, it looks like his violation should add up to a $6,120 fine to his campaign.

I guess we will have to wait and see what they come up with on Monday. It will probably just be a slap on the wrist.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sales Tax Decline and Bond Debt

There are two very interesting articles in the news today. One about Mesa's falling tax revenue and another about the City potentially adding more to the bond package. I don't think we can really talk about one without the other.

The city wants more money to pay for some basic needs like more fire stations, yet the sales tax is falling and its unclear where we are going to find the money to operate them. The State of Arizona is on the brink of a Billion dollar deficit. Sales taxes are down and I even heard that road funding is going to come up short. Perhaps, its time to do some cutting. The guy from Chronic Car Audio mentioned in his interview that he had to cut payroll to make ends meet while we are in this downturn.

So, where are Mesa's cuts? I'd like to see what we are going to cut so we have the money to pay the $1.7 million needed annually to pay for the $5.7 million station at 104th Street and Broadway Road. I understand the need for these critical services. I am likely to support the bond and pay the secondary property tax.

I just want to know how we are going to pay it back in a reasonable amount of time and how we are going to have the money in the future to operate this. One of the commenters points out an operations and maintenance portion of the bond, which is something I am much less likely to support.

Let the competition begin

Looks like pretty much everyone turned in their signatures and will be on the March Ballot. Glad to see that there will be some competition across the board. Only a few months back, it looked like the only spirited race was going to be the one for Mayor. Now, it looks like we will have competition to make up the new face council - it will be interesting to see which candidate for mayor this will benefit. Here is the breakdown:

Mayor – Rex Griswold, Scott Smith and Claudia Walters

District 1 – Dave Richins, Matt Tolman

District 2 – Alex Finter, Manny Cortez

District 3 – Dennis Kavanaugh, Mark Yarbrough

District 5 – Vern Mathern, Phil Austin and Dina Higgins

The finances say quite a bit in the 1, 2, and 3 races. I think that the Mayor's race and District 5 are the ones too close to call.

Let me know who you are suppporting in the comment section!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Candidates take on Immigration

Here is the report from Gary Nelson of the Republic and Jason Massad of the Tribune about yesterday's immigration discussion from the Mayoral candidates. Its always interesting to see the different takes on the same issue.

It looks to me that all of the candidates need to brush up on their immigration plans. This is going to continue to be a huge issue and they should have some ideas on what they stand for.

For example, Smith sounds a lot more forceful in the Republic article and weaker in the Tribune. Which is closer to reality? I do have to give him the quote of the day:

"My vision doesn't include being the payday loan capital of the world, or having a disproportionate share of pawn shops, or watching the MD Helicopters of the world walk out of the city." - POW!

I was pretty surprised to see Rex Griswald take on the Sheriff's department do directly. Like him or not, the Sheriff and his activties regarding illegal immigration is very popular with a large group of people. Some people I talk to think that he is the only guy doing anything about immigration. Plus, his comments about the East vs. West divide are pretty troubling. I have already heard that he is not that popular in West Mesa, so why would he come out and insinuate that its going to turn into the "ghetto?"

Once again, the answers given forth by Walters seem weak and defensive. Okay, so the Feds aren't doing anything about immigration, so what are she going to do about it? We shouldn't talk about money anymore, but instead, focus on our opportunity? But the financial problem hasn't been fixed yet! You know she doesn't want us to focus on that? Because I think we might find that she is part of the problem. I think that she did a good job defending West Mesa, but she needs some work in taking ownership of the rest

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

UFCW at it again

Its kind of hard to believe the UFCW when they attack a market that has been in town about 5 minutes. Gee, really? Its about our health? Its certainly not about your desire for them to unionize.

Between this and attacking everyone's favorite grocer Eddie Basha, these guys have made their motives quite clear.

Good Luck

A guy named Jeffrey Eger thinks he can get all 300 of the signatures that he needs by tomorrow. Good luck, dude. It will be highly doubtful that he will make it on the ballot. Although, who knows, maybe he will run as a write-in.

I do have some questions about his downtown revitalization platform, however. The guy is looking to represent the area that is getting Riverview and Waveyard in the future. Maybe he should focus on his own backyard - or move to downtown and run against Kyle Jones.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I thought the signs were multiplying, not disappearing

This is funny: Griswold and Smith's signs are being stolen and used to line pools. From what I heard, its a big no no to take signs that are put up. I wonder what will happen to the developer.

I didn't realize that those signs were so dang expensive! $50 bucks a piece according to Griswold. So, if he has only spent $17,000 to date, does that mean he has 340 signs up? It sure fees like a lot more than that!

Mesa Police doing a good job

Here is an interesting story about the Mesa Police doing their best to combat the hot beds of crime in our city. It looks like the police have really picked up the pace in doing what they can to lower crime. Sweeps like these will hopefully keep people on their toes.

Fundraising Redux

Well, I have to say that Gary Nelson does a better job in bringing some clarity to the fundraising situation for the Mesa Mayor's race. So, according to Nelson, here are the gains:

Rex Griswold +$6,000

Claudia Walters +$12,800

Scott Smith +$20,780

Plus, Nelson mentions that Smith announced that he raised another $10,000 since then. A fact that was also sent to me via email from a Scott Smith supporter. If thats true, it puts smith at +$30,780.

In cash on hand, it looks like Griswold in the lead with $60,000, spending only about $17,000 - which seems a little low since the guy has signs all over town. Smith seems to have the lowest on hand, but at the rate he looks to be raising money, I wonder if it will stay that way for long.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mayor's Race Fundraising update

The Tribune has a story about the Mayor's Race Fundraising today. I wanted to see how these guys were doing so I looked back to my blog archives and found the story from October 26th that gave the last fundraising report. Obviously, these are rough numbers, so its not completely accurate, but its still interesting to compare the two:

Rex Griswold
October 26th - $70,000
December 7th - $77,000
A $7,000 gain

Claudia Walters
October 26th - $40,000
December 7th - $47,000
A $7,000 gain

Scott Smith
October 26th - $40,000
December 7th - $60,000
A $20,000 gain

So, it looks to me like Scott Smith is outpacing the other two in fundraising. Am I missing something here? I think that the headline from today's Tribune seems a little misleading. Looks to me like Smith was the top fundraiser over that period of time. Sure, Griswold is still in the lead, but not even a notation about how big the gap is? Now, I am not looking directly at the reports, but the paper isn't being consistent with their numbers.

One of the commenters brings up a good point as well, why mention Smith's personal loan to his committee but not Griswold's?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

March is going to be a busy ballot in Mesa

Get ready folks, it looks like you are about to see a bunch more signs on the street corner. Mesa has also placed "home rule" and a zoning issue on the March Ballot. I knew that Question 1 was going to be on there, but this is the first that I have heard about Prop 300 which is described as "seeking to overturn the City Council's approval of rezoning to accommodate an office and warehouse project on Pecos Road south of Phoenix/Mesa Gateway Airport." So is it going to be "yes" to overturn or "yes" to support the council's decision.

Don't you love it when yes can be no and no can be yes?

Waveyard Update

Waveyard is starting to submit their images for design review. Overall, the new images look pretty consistent with the stuff they talked about in the campaign. It will be interesting to see how the different types of architecture would go together. Overall, its good to see that the process is moving forward.

Illegal Immigration in Mesa

According to the Tribune, the Sheriff's department has arrested 31 illegal immigrants in Mesa over the past few weeks. On one hand, I have to hand it to the sheriff for enforcing the law and at least working towards some sort of solution to the immigration problem. On the other hand, I can't condone the sheriff issuing a press release every time he does something good especially when they throw other people under the bus. Essentially, the crazy man is saying that everyone else is doing a crappy job, but him.

This certainly is not going to help create consensus on immigration solutions. Its simply more kindling for the fire... although, am I really surprised that Sheriff Joe wants to stir the pot?

The real question is this: Can the police enforce the law effectively while enforcing immigration laws? If not, what do they need to make that happen? If they have the man power to arrest these people while still tracking down murderers and others, why wouldn't they do it?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mayoral Candidates Square Off

The Republic is reporting some snippets from the Mayor Candidate Debate in front of the Downtown Mesa Association - EDIT: Here is the Tribune's take as well. Sounds like Scott Smith was in there throwing some heat at the other candidates who have been on the council. And once again, it sounds like Walters is going to be the defensive one.

This will continue to haunt Claudia Walters unless she finds a different way to talk about it. No one wants to hear what the council does and doesn't have. They want to know what you are going to do about it. And we have heard the the talk about the "learning curve" enough. We get it, you think being on the council is hard.

Griswold does a better job of talking about the right things to fit what his audience wants to hear. However, as a regular Mesa resident, I'd rather hear more about what his plans are for the bonds and the other needs of Mesa instead of how our "night life" is going.

Both of the incumbents seem to admit that there is a problem, but neither of them are willing to admit that its at all their faulty or they had anything to do with it. They have had 5 and 8 years to fix this thing and yet, here we are with the same problems. It looks like Scott Smith is going to be able to drive the debate because they can do nothing but attempt to defend their record.

Vote now for Fiesta something something

Now, you can vote on the new name for the fiesta district, or in fact, keep calling it the fiesta district. Let me tell you, I am certainly glad that the city is paying a consultant to come up with names like these:

Fiesta District - yawn
Fiesta Promenade - doesn't seem to fit nextdoor to a check cashing store
Fiesta Heights - sounds like cheap apartments
Fiesta Crossings - generic
Fiesta Crossroads - super generic
Fiesta Palisades - sounds old timey

Why not get Michael Pollack to buy the whole thing like he owns everything else in the East Valley. Then it can be something like the Pollack Fiesta Crossings III East.

Best wishes to Matt Salmon

I was sort of bummed to read that former congressman and candidate for Governor Matt Salmon has take an job in Washington DC. I always thought he represented Mesa well as a solid congressman who stuck to his convictions. I also give him kudos for respecting his promise to his self imposed term limit - something that can't be said about Congressman Flake as mentioned by the Tribune:

"At one time, Salmon considered succeeding Flake, presuming that Flake would stick to his own term-limit pledge. Flake reneged though, and Salmon never sought to regain the office."

(This reminds me, how come no one really talks about how Flake renegged? Its almost like a mundane fact at this point).

Salmon was also influential in the Waveyard deal which has the potential to have long term positive impacts on the City of Mesa. I wish Mr. Salmon well on his endeavors.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

All Mesa races might end up contested

Well, look at this. Now, there may be at least two candidates in all of the races as there is another person, Manny Cortez, who has announced for District 2. Of course, this all depends on if they are able to get their signatures. For the sake of competition, I hope they all do. Here is a brief look at the potential breakdown of the races as the deadline approaches next week:

Scott Smith
Rex Griswold
Claudia Walters

District 1
Dave Richins
Matt Tolman

District 2
Alex Finter
Manny Cortez

District 3
Dennis Kavanaugh
Mark Yarbrough

District 5
Phil Austin
Dina Higgins
Vernon Mathern

Take a look at that for a minute. Talk about a new looking council. There is a lot of opportunity there with only Jones and Somers staying on board. Hopefully, this will spark a lot of discussion and we will have a likely election season as March approaches.

District 3 just got more interesting

Before I could really even comment on Yarbrough jumping into the mayor's race, he has changed his sights onto the District 3 Race. I always say that its good to have competition. I don't know how this will impact Kavanaugh's reelection bid, but at least we'll probably see a greater turn out from the area. It would have probably been best if Yarbrough had thought this thing through and came out for the district in the first place, but oh well.

We shall see if he is able to get the signatures he needs in 9 days. This commenter is interesting:

"Where'd this guy come from? He announces he wants to run for Mayor, then three days later changes his mind to run for Council to 'raise his profile'. I've lived in District 3 for 20 years and followed City politics pretty closely. Never heard of him. Evidently no experience on civic boards or committees, no track record of involvement in local affairs, nothing at all. And now some two weeks before the deadline...amazing. Sounds like an ill-thought out ego trip."

I didn't know that an average citizen can't jump in and get involved. Perhaps even if he doesn't win this race, this might spur him into being involved in other ways. We should never discourage participation. Mesa's government could use a lot more people engaged in whats going on. Now, I am not saying that I like this guy over Kavanaugh, but its always good to have motivation to explore and discuss the issues.

4 people show up to discuss Mesa bond

Hello, is anyone out there? Mesa holds a bond hearing and only 4 people show up. This either means that nobody cares, or that everyone is so disenfranchised that they don't think that it makes a difference if they show up.

We are talking upwards of $400 million in bonds with a potential secondary property tax involved. Is everyone okay with this? Does this have everything we need? If we build these roads, do we have the money to maintain them? If we expand these facilities, do we have the money to operate them?

I am not against the bonds, but the question is, where did the bonds come from? Is there no citizen committee out there to help raise the awareness on this? When they did the property tax, they had the "Financing the Future" committee out there talking about what they came up with and discussing the conclusions.

This time around we have the Mesa City spokesperson talking about how "surprised" she is that no one came? Gee, that sounds like a PROBLEM to me. And now, it looks like this thing is a done deal ready to go to the ballot.

They are looking for a November of 2008 vote for this, couldn't they spend a little more time trying to get public input instead of thinking "oh well, they had their chance."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ballfields list is cut down

More news from the Waveyard ballfield debate. It looks like the City has taken Kleinman park out of contention which I am sure will make some people happy. The real X factor here is if the private land that the City is looking into. Obviously, they are in negotionations, so they can't disclose who else they are dealing with, but if I had to bet, I would guess that the ballfields will end up on private land sold to the city.

District 5 race heats up

According to the Trib, 2 more people have thrown their hat into the ring for the District 5 City Council seat. Lets see if they will be able to get the signatures in time.

I am glad to see that there is going to be more competition for the seats. More people should want to be involved in City Government and truly want to make a difference.

Have you seen this Lamborghini?

This has been all over the news and the radio for the last couple of days. This guy did over 200 mph on the 202 in East Mesa. If you have seen this car, or know this guy, please call the authorities.

I have no problem if people want to use their hard earned money to buy fast toys to show off. I do have a problem when people want to drive at 219 mph on roads with other people. If something goes wrong, this guy is killing himself and probably a bunch of other people. I heard that this guy has also taken his car over and tresspassed onto the Bonderandt driving school site and driven over there as well.

I had heard that the video had been taken down, but here it is again. If you know the voice or the car, please let someone know.

More Finance Troubles for Mesa

According to Gary Nelson of the Arizona Republic, sales taxes revenues for Mesa have dropped another $900,000 below projections in just about a month. The new gap is about $2.5 million below the current budget needs. So I guess my question is: where will the cuts be made? Why is this such a surprise when its clear that Mesa's revenues depend so heavily on sales tax revenues? How come the council's budget doesn't come with built in contingency?

Here is a thought: Instead of building a budget that has to be cut, why not build a budget with some surplus built in. That way, when times are lean, your surplus is lost without impacting the services as promised. In this current structure, we are constantly set up for disappointment. People put away savings for exactly the same reason. You have some money saved away so when something unexpected happens (like major car troubles, a trip to the hospital, braces) you have the money to pay for it - instead of being left broke and looking for a way to pay the mortgage.

When the property tax failed, we were told that cuts were going to be made? What ever happened to that? Was it all talk? The voters were told what they would be losing by voting it down and they did it anyway. So, why are we still in such a bad position? Shouldn't the council taken that as a clue that they should change the way that they did business? Shouldn't we expect a much leaner budget?

Instead, we are back where we have been for awhile now: at the whim of the economy and Mesa's sales tax revenues.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When will we know if Mesa has turned the corner?

So, I have looked back over the last few posts and over the last few months and I really have to say that in many ways, things are starting to finally look up in Mesa. We are looking at quality projects like Waveyard, Mesa Proving Grounds, and the Condos at Fiesta Mall. People seem to be interested in actually moving to Mesa.

I think that a lot of people will tell you that Mesa is on the verge of turning the corner. But I think that there are still a few very pressing issues that need to be addressed before we can even discuss making such a proclaimation:

  • Reducing crime in the aging parts of Mesa
  • Keeping up with police and fire coverage especially in East Mesa
  • Delivering all of the transportation projects that were promised
  • Getting immigration under control
  • Creating a budget that doesn't continue to grow out of control
  • Cutting our reliance on utility rate increases
  • Building a long term plan for Gateway
  • Making a plan for Downtown
  • Taking an objective look at Light Rail

These are the types of issues that I hope that the candidates for Mayor address in the upcoming election. Its clear that there are positive steps in the right direction, but the road to redemption is long. Its going to take some vision to get these things done.

Hotel added to Condo Project

The Republic is reporting that a luxury hotel has been added to the Condo project at Fiesta Mall. It is good to see that Mesa is trying to attract some more upscale hotels. I have always been disappointed in the difference between the bland outside of the Hilton and its relatively decent interior. This is another big step for the Fiesta District, but it still begs the question: What are upscale travelers and business going to do in the area? The Republic says:

"The project is considered a key facet to the Fiesta District's revival, along with renovations to Fiesta Mall, expansion of Mesa Community College and the new Children's Hospital tower under construction at Banner Desert Medical Center."

While I agree that things are looking up for the area, it doesn't really answer the question on what people in a fancy condo and a hip hotel are going to do in the area? There is only so much time they can spend in the mall. Plus, unless I hear differently, Westcor is only replacing the old store with two new department stores. I don't really think thats going to have the hipsters running to shop there. Let's hope that there is more coming.

Future of Mesa Proving Ground

Here is a really interesting article in the Tribune about the Mesa proving grounds and what sort of plans the developers have for it. At first blush, it sounds like a lot of big talk. But then I realized the group doing the work is DMB Associates.

I looked them up and it turns out that they are the same folks who did Verrado and DC Ranch - which are two of the more interesting communities I have seen. So who knows, maybe they can deliver something like we have never seen before.

We have a real opportunity in East Mesa between Gateway Airport and the Proving Grounds to make something really spectacular. However, its going to take some global thinking and a commitment of not only the people in the area, but businesses and the City of Mesa. Let's hope the action backs up all of the talk.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Looking up in West Mesa

Lots of big things were approved last week at the Planning and Zoning Board. However, one of the biggest wins is what wasn't approved: another pawn shop for the area. Mesa is an interesting town because it filled with conflicting forces: one force is trying to rennovate, innovate and restore - transit development, new condos, etc.

The other force is trying to perpetuate our current situation - more pay day loans, pawn shops, and apartments. The sad part is: this force is really the status quo right now. We have seen some major victories as of late including Waveyard and these condos, but this is only the beginning. We have big opportunities in the east part of the city if they are done right.

Aren't there bigger problems in Pinal County?

Pinal County wants to launch a county-wide wi-fi network. I guess it will be good for all of the people who have to telecommute to work because there is no way that they are willing to brave the traffic.

I think that this is a neat idea, but shouldn't the county be focused on more pressing issues? This certainly seems like something a private enterprise could come in a do a better job of by themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Updated: Truitt is out

The Republic is now reporting that Darrell Truitt will not run for District 5.

They reported last week that Truitt had filed for District 5. Good for him for sticking to his original plan. Like I said before, I don't know if he had made any pledge to not run, but I am glad that he is not taking the incumbent advantage.

Waveyard Final Count

Pretty interesting to note that the project won in early ballots and on election day in all 6 districts. The margins are especially high in the east part of the city. I am glad to see everyone was on the same page on this one. I think its more interesting to note that 22,000 of the 46,000 ballots cast are from East Mesa.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Well Said!

I wanted to compliment Kym Levesque for her blog about the Higley School teacher. I agree that teachers live under constant scrutiny and walk a fine line where they hold none of the power.

I think the first part of her blog is well stated and right to the point. It is preposterous that this teacher is resigning over two "incidents" that seem minor - and almost ridiculous in nature.

However, I don't think that the school bond issue and the teacher expectations is quite the right fit. Voters weren't asked to extend the overrides to give raises to teachers and put more money in the classroom. They were asked to override the budget of the school district. The budget that includes a lot of bureaucracy and not a whole heck of a lot of efficiency.

When the overrides went down, the schools say that its the teachers who will suffer, but there are certainly other ways that the schools can cut back. And I am not just talking about all the easy things that schools usually threaten, like arts.

Rex Griswold first to file petition signatues

Former City Councilman and current Mayoral Candidate Rex Griswold has filed his petition signatures yesterday. The picture above is of him and his buddies celebrating outside the clerks office - super duper, gang! Just Kidding.

Griswold is the first out of the gate. I wonder if having his signs up so much earlier than anyone else helped him in his petition gathering process. Kudos to him, but I bet we'll see the other two file before too long. He seems to be doing the fundamentals right: raising the most money, getting his signatures in first. Seems like the guy might have some momentum.

The real question is, as a former member of the standing council, do people trust him to fix Mesa?

Light Rail making friends

The Tribune is reporting that Mesa business owners don't want light rail down Main. Gee, I wonder why! It seems like all the construction and stuff has been a total breeze for all those businesses in Tempe and in Phoenix. It will be interesting to see how this one develops. However, correct me if I am wrong, but aren't these extensions a little while away? Why are they doing all the work now?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

MCC in the news... for something positive!

MCC is buying the old Fuddruckers and Harkins theater by Fiesta Mall. I guess thats what happens when you start saving the money from the junkets and start using it towards school improvements. Kidding! Kidding!

But seriously, what did they cut to make room in their multimillion dollar bond budget for this?

Anyway, I don't know if I am going to enjoy the smell of old hamburgers and nacho cheese when I am enjoying some artwork, but who knows. How many shows are they going to have going on at once over at the Harkins 5? It seems like a pretty big space, but maybe this will be interesting.

We didn't see this problem in 2000?

The Republic is reporting the debate that has grown over the future bonds and the secondary property tax that may be attached. Mesa is having to find $30 million bucks this year, to pay for bonds that were previously issued. Its been a long time coming since I think these bonds have been pushed out over a long period of time to try to make ends meet. Its like taking out a 7 year loan on your car.

Now, the City staff is talking about raising a retroactive tax to pay for whats left so there would be enough operations money to pay for the stuff that they want to build with the new bonds. You gotta hand it to Tom Rawles. At least he says it like it is. There is a clear problem at hand: even if the voters approve the bonds to build the new police and fire stations, there is not enough money to staff them. Now, the council is talking about leaving that issue in the hands of the future council. What sort of leadership is that?

If you recall, there was a lot of talk about imminent cuts during the property tax election. What happened to all of those? Why aren't they talking cuts now to make up the $8 million a year needed to staff these stations. We need priorities, not retroactive taxes.

What is even more troubling is the following statement by Claudia Walters:

"The fundamental problem, she said, is that the city's financing system no longer works, and no one could have foreseen that when bonds were issued in 2000."

Really? We didn't see that people were moving out of Mesa in 2000? We didn't see new freeways coming online making it easier for people to live further away? We didn't see that people were starting to shop elsewhere? We didn't see that Mesa was the only community without a property tax?

I am sure someone must have mentioned that there was a potential problem down the road. I certainly know that it didn't take until 2007 to realize that there was a problem.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Riding the Roller Coaster

The Tribune is reporting that sales tax revenue is down and its impacting Mesa's budget. So far, it looks like they can handle it, but who knows what the future holds. The article tries to link the bond issue to the drop in budget. We have been in tough economic shape for awhile. The sales tax slowdown isn't what put the city in this hole.

Having bonds with a secondary property tax to pay for infrastructure is a more steady approach to getting some needs met. Mesa went out for the whole enchilada a while back with the primary property tax and was roundly rejected. Perhaps they will be able to make the case for specific projects. Its the difference between trusting the council with the blank check and sending them to the grocery store with a certain amount of money and a shopping list. Perhaps the voters will be a bit more trusting.

The only thing that troubles me is this line:

"And the tax assessments could go up because of ongoing costs to maintain facilities and pay salaries tied to the bond package. "

I don't think that these bonds should pay for M&O. The city needs to find away to take care of that with their regular budget. Otherwise, we are putting ourselves into a perpetual obligation, because once we get that staff in place, you know that it would be darn near impossible to remove them. No one has the political will to lower the number of police and fire workers that they have in the city.

Mesa Mayor's Signs

Saw my first Scott Smith sign yesterday. Saw it from about a mile away. Its an interesting contrast compared to Rex's signs. Griswold seems to use a whole bunch of his sign for his picture. I think I figured out why:

He wants the San Diego transplant vote. You stay classy, Rex! I can't possibly be the first person to make this observation, right? Please tell me someone else has thought of this.

I can't wait to see what Claudia Walters comes out with. It probably won't be half as fun.

Still a lot of work to do on Waveyard

Here is a great editorial in the Arizona Republic today about Waveyard and how there is still a lot of work to be done. My sentiments exactly! I have made it clear that I support the project and that I think that its good for the city. Now that its approved, however, I think that we need to make sure that the project is delivered as promised. I have scanned the development agreement and it looks like there are a lot of things in place to make sure that these guys give us everything that they are promised. I know that there were a few people out there complaining that this is going to end up being a glorified condo complex - I seriously doubt that will happen.

However, we need to make sure that there is not a gap between what was promised and what is actually delivered to the voters. The voters across Mesa overwhelmingly supported this project because they were promised something unique in exhange for those ballparks and that golfcourse. Now, they just have to make sure that they deliver.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

ASU wants more money

Is anyone really surprised by this report that ASU wants more money? I think that ASU has a bit of a public perception problem. If you want more money, don't be building fancy buildings and growing a huge new campus downtown. Are we supposed to be impressed with everything that is going on and just willingly open our pocketbooks?

Now, I have been told that ASU is one of the cheaper state universities in the country. I could see if they wanted to boost tuition once in awhile to keep up, but it seems like they are doing this same song and dance every year. At least Crow waited until he had a decent football team this year to ask.

East Valley Congessional Races

Saw this very interesting article about the upcoming races in the East Valley. I also saw this post by the folks over at Seeing Red Arizona categorizing the Flake/Pearce contest being a race between an open border lover and a very popular immigration advocate.

The one thing that I notice is that in both CD5 race and the CD6 races, we are going to watch a bunch of Republicans beat up on eachother. There are going to be up to six people looking to take on Mitchell, and Flake and Pearce is going to be nasty as well.

Well, gee, this tactic seemed to work out well 2 years ago in CD8. Plus, a lot of people forget this, but Napolitano skated to victory in her original AG's race because two republicans lit eachother on fire in the primary. Republicans beating up on Republicans is never a good thing - and I think its an especially bad thing next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reward! Watch Thieves Caught on Camera

Big Sticks Cigar Store Theives

Please take a minute to watch this video and see if you can identify either of the culprits. If you can, you might earn yourself a nifty $1000 bucks. Check out the whole story from Big Sticks, which is the cigar shop at Riverview. Saw this story in the Republic, and figured I would help spread the word. If we can't use the internets to catch thieves, what is it good for?

Election Results

Waveyard passes with 65% of the vote and the commenters over at the Tribune sure are angry. I am glad to see the voters were willing to listen to the deal, see the merits, and vote for it. Quite frankly, I am prett surprised that it passed with such a large margin, especially here in Mesa. Now, lets hope that they deliver on everything as promised.

The other interesting thing from yesterday is the surprising number of school overrides that went down. It looks like the government may have a taxpayer revolt on their hands. Rising assessments, increased taxes, a slowing economy... The property tax reform movement may have some momentum.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Be sure to vote Yes on Waveyard

Well, the election is finally here. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to find out where your polling place is and go out and vote. This issue is important to the type of city that we want in the future. Here are the reasons I voted Yes:

  • Its supported by everyone, including the crazies at VBO. That's really saying something.
  • It will certainly generate more money for the city over the golf course.
  • We missed out on the Cardinals stadium. We should have something to show for it.
  • It would be nice to have a cool place in Mesa where I can take my kids.
  • I'd rather do this than start the property tax debate all over again.

We'll see how it goes. I hope the voters of Mesa make the right decision.

Monday, November 5, 2007

East Mesa says, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday..."

Here is an interesting article from Today's Tribune. Yikes. Instead of asking growth to pay for itself now, Mesa is apparently asking growth to pay for itself later. We are so far behind in planning out there that people are being allowed to come in now and pay for their growth later. Gee, I wonder if thats going to cause any problems.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A true test of the trust in the council

Looks like voters are going to be able to decide on "Home Rule" in the upcoming election. Its sort of interesting how this debate is shaping up. By posing it as a budget cut question, I think that many people may vote against it because they'd like to see the council make cuts.

If you remember, during the property tax debate, the city council said that they were going to have to make a bunch of cuts if the tax failed. The tax didn't pass, and I don't know about you, but I haven't really felt a pinch. Those kind of empty threats, followed up by the appearance of a continually growing budget is what creates a credibility gap with voters.

I think that I would like to see some sort of deal cut where if people vote Yes on "Home Rule" the council will agree to make $50 million in cuts or something like that.

District 5 Update

Phil Austin has filed papers to run for the District 5 seat vacated by Rex Griswold. I wouldn't be surprised to see Terry Benelli follow closely behind. The most interesting thing in the article was this statement from Darrell Truitt:

"Truitt said this week he has not yet decided to run for the position."

I thought part of the reason the council picked him was because he wasn't going to run. We'll have to see how that all plays out. In the meantime, the Republic thinks that Truitt is a good pick for the temporary job. It doesn't say if they would support him in an election bid.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Weighing in on the Incentive Debate

I have to comment on the blog by Ron Pies on Waveyard in the Republic. First, he admits that he lives in Tempe, so right there, he has no credibility on the subject. Ron Pies, Todd Stallion, whats with people from Tempe hating on Mesa? Its like telling someone else how to raise their kids. In the end, the whole Waveyard debate seems to come back to one thing: Incentives.

First, a math lession. Whats half of nothing? Have you guessed? Well, the answer is NOTHING. People are complaining that the City of Mesa is entering a deal that will generate sales tax dollars for the city and they are willing to give away some of the profits in order for that to happen. Doesn't the old saying go, it takes money to make money?

Incentive is defined as:

Something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.

Subsity is defined as:

A direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to a private industrial undertaking, a charity organization, or the like.

Which definition fits here? I think "incentive" is a much better fit. Can anyone argue that Waveyard would not offer increased productivity compared to Riverview Golf Course? Its a 9 hole golf course that barely anyone outside of Mesa uses. Its not some superspectacular course - it is a public course that is lost in the sea of the other high class golf courses that are found all over the Valley.

Some of these taxpayers seem to think that any incentive paid is coming out of their pocket. The fact is, people who shop there, but a surfing ticket, sit on the beach, etc are the ones who pay the incentive. Whats wrong with Mesa trying to do something to increase revenues?

Look around, we have potholes in the streets, police and fire are stretched, and the city needs to think of ways to make more money. Yet, people sit there and are saying no, because they think its "direct aid." This implies that there is no benefit to the government, when in this case, there clearly is.

Unless you are going to start coming up with alternatives of your own, I am sticking with supporting Waveyard.

Mesa Air in some hot water

Based on the $80 million ruling against them, I hope that Mesa Air isn't the center piece for the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport plan. Whats more, if you look at the comments, there is some serious hate going on for Mesa Air. It makes me wonder about all of those commercials I have seen with those smiling employees who say things like, "I started on the runway!" Was there a caddle prod being threatened? You have to assume that this will strain the relationship between Mesa Air and US Airways, right?

More light rail?

I guess its important to discuss the impacts of potential light rail extensions into Mesa, but shouldn't we wait for the thing to be up and running before we get too far down the tracks (pardon the pun)? They are already looking at the extensions for 2015, and talking about ridership as if its all a done deal.

I think we should all wait and see how this thing goes before we go on an extend it all over the place. Plus, running the tracks down main street so it gets reduced to 1 lane in each direction seems like it would create a traffic nightmare. And, if those shop owners have been downtown in the last year or so, I bet they are shaking in their boots about what the construction would do to their business.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jon from Exurban made my day

Jon from Exurban League has a great review of the new Gateway logo over at their blog. It includes the hilarious observation of how close the logo comes to a hammer and sickle on its side that I have posted above. Be sure to check it out yourself. Its hialarious when people out think themselves.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mayor Candidates at Hispanic Town Hall

Here is the suggestively titled Trib article from the weekend: "Town hall Hispanics grill Mesa candidates." It sounds like some locals took the candidates and made fajitas out of them. At least, thats what I think when I read the word "grill."

From everything I heard, no one was all that impressive. Judging by the quotes from each of the candidates, it sure sounds that way. Walters sounds defensive. Smith sounds inexperienced. Griswold sounds too eager to please.

I doubt that we really need more resources in a diversity office at this point when we don't have enough money to do other things.

Go Gadget go!

Anyone else remember Inspector Gadget? It looks to me like "Go Go Gadget Airport!" to me. Someone got paid $10,000 to come up with that. You know you are in trouble when the best thing that someone can say about it is "It grows on you."

Let's hope that their business plan is better than their logo design.

Tribune trying to sell papers

Check out the Trib's front page Waveyard article from Sunday. Its pretty sensational. Here are the facts that they have:

1. A guy from Florida says the wavepool can't be done.
2. One of the Waveyard guys had a business deal go south on them.
3. These guys are being financed by a huge Australian finance company.

Gee, scandal scandal! Its weird. The pictures don't match up with the story at all. Why would the Waveyard guys be all smiles in the midst of a hit piece? Did the Trib lie to them about what the story was about?

You know what else is great? The ensuing 6 page comment war between the Yes folks and the No folks. The accusations are flying and the conspiracies are running deep. Are people being paid to gin up these comments on both sides?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Griswold captures the early fundraising lead

The Tribune is reporting, Griswold tops field in Mesa campaign fundraising. Congratulations to Mr. Griswold, he is beating his opponents by nearly double their amount. How much did he spend to put his smiling face all around town? How much do each of them have left in the bank?

I wish that everyone would get with the times and post the fundraising reports online. I would be very interested to see who is donating to what campaign. Did either of the incumbents have a war chest before this campaign started? How much was raised while they were "exploring" vs. how much did they raise since they became official candidates? These are questions that I am interested in, but I don't have time to go down and look it up at the clerk's office.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Salmon's Response to Robb about Waveyard

Found this response to Robb's column about Waveyard in the online version of the Republic today. I only found it because I was tracking a link back to the blog and found that the east valley opinions is carrying Robb's article as well. There right below it was a article by Matt Salmon. I wonder if they will run this front and center in the Valley and State just like the snipe job they ran by Robb.

You gotta love this last line:

"Apparently some conservatives don't even like it when government cuts good business deals keeping taxes low while simultaneously increasing public revenues; my guess is that is when they become journalists or policy analysts for pointy headed policy think tanks."

Truitt gets the nod for District 5

The Trib reports, Mesa appoints Truitt to City Council. Congratulations Darrell Truitt on representing District 5 for the next couple of months. I am sure that the learning curve is going to be swift, but I am sure you can handle it. Here is a word of advice: Don't tell us how hard it is to be on the council.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Imagine Robert Robb in swim trunks

Here's a shocker: Robert Robb doesn't like Waveyard. He, of course, hates ice cream, apple pie, and puppies. Heaven forbid that Mesa tries to generate revenue.

Robb argues that Mesa isn't getting a good deal and they are probably going to get less sales tax revenue that they would from other uses. Getting less sales tax than it could from other users? Nestled between two huge shopping centers and a couple of car dealerships, what kind of use would generate more dollars than a place for tourists to go? I don't see another power center doing the trick. Short of leasing the land to the indians and getting a casino (something that one of my readers mentioned yesterday as an idea that they would detest), I think that this is a good idea to raise the revenue base. Only something with one of a kind components might have a shot in bringing more people are revenue into the city.

Robb neglects to mention the financial troubles that Mesa has had in the past, the fact that the property tax was shot down, or the fact that our future rises and falls with the tides of sales tax revenue. The city needs to be more creative in the way they conduct their business and Mr. Robb is beating them up for doing so. Its so nice for him to climb down from his tower from time to time to tell us how dumb we all are and that he knows what is good for us.

Robert Robb seems like the kind of guy who would have poopooed Disneyland because it had never been done before. The large majority of the people I have talked to are in favor of this project. Fortunately, most of them don't read Robert Robb.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not one, but two hotels in East Mesa?

There are Two 6-story hotels planned for east Mesa. Who knew? Its apparently going to go along with the medical complex that they are building out there. I don't know who is going to stay in the hotels, but let's hope it starts generating bed taxes and other things right away so that growth can start paying for itself. Lets hope there isn't any accidents out there because who knows how long the response times would be.

We need to start looking at the city from a broad perspective taking into account that we are going to continue to grow - especially in the east part of town. Those people deserve the same coverage and treatment as the people from other parts of town. So the question is: How can the city pay for the fire stations, police stations, and parks that they need out there?

No Duh!

This just in: If Waveyard isn't built in Mesa, it will go somewhere else. I don't really think that this is shocking to anyone. This is the kind of project that will certainly find a home somewhere in the Valley or some other state closeby. I don't really like to be threatened, but its also helpful to have a dose of reality.

I really think that the voters understand what is at stake here. With the Super Bowl coming to town this year and all the development coming out of the ground at Westgate, I think that people are starting to see what we missed the boat on. I know that many people are still glad that we don't have the stadium (especially after the Cards have lost two weeks in a row in painful fashion). I was luke warm about the stadium at best, and I know a lot of people who were against it. Now, a few of them have started to say that they feel like we missed out. It took several years to realize this, but hey, better late than never. I certainly hope that people look at what Waveyard can bring to Mesa - a town driven by sales tax - and understand that we need to start looking for ways to grow our local revenue.

Its clear that Waveyard will be built somewhere - so why not get the benefits here in Mesa?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Road Side Memorials Redux

Bob Schuster of the Republic blogged about the Rex Griswold road side memorial vs. Campaign Sign issue having the same observations as some of my readers. One of the commenters, called "insunnymesa" has written in to defend Griswold saying that this whole roadside memorial issues is the mayor's doing. Or as the commenter likes to say, the "major." The commenter misses the mark, however, since here is Griswold's direct quote:

"I think two weeks is a reasonable time" for memorials, Griswold said. "We allow them the two weeks to grieve and then they should come down."

That is the line that people like Schuster and some of my readers are having a problem with. Griswold apparently thinks that its okay to have a memorial up for ONLY two weeks, but campaign signs can be up for five months. Whether or not the law allows for it, the lack of sensitivity combined with the eagerness to self promote is troubling.

That doesn't even account to the fact that there is another election between now and the Mayor's race. Boy, some people are going to be bummed when they show up at the polls to vote on the Mayors race to find only Waveyard on the ballot.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dip in Mesa's Sales Tax

The Republic is reporting that there is a dip in sales tax revenues to start the new fiscal year. Dips happen in sales from time to time, when people are concerned about the economy, or war, or lots of different reasons. In end, it usually doesn't make that big of a difference because as long as spending continues at a relatively decent pace, revenues will eventually catch up.

In Mesa's case, however, it makes a much bigger deal because sales tax is one of the biggest revenue sources that we have. Other cities use more stable sources of revenue such as a primary or secondary property tax to keep their services working. Mesa, on the other hand, uses that wonderous roller coaster that is sales tax revenue. Voters made it clear that they didn't want a property tax... and I am fine with that. However, we need to look for more stable ways to boost revenue when the economy hiccups.

Hopefully, this will end up being nothing, but who knows. More cuts may be on their way.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is BlogNetNews being gamed?

I have not been on BlogNetNews for very long, and I appreciate the fact that they are willing to add me. You know what I don't appreciate? The fact that someone, or a few someones for that matter, take the time to go through and rank everyone with a 1. I think my cumulative rating is something like a 1.38. So thanks for everyone who takes the time to rate with something besides a 1! I have always been miffed, but then someone named "Chester" sent me this observation:

"Awhile back, I checked blognetnews after all of the rankings have been reset for the week. I noticed that Seeing Red had a 10 ranking. Just for interest, I ranked them a 1 to see what would happen. The feedback I received said that their new ranking for the week is 8.5. When do the math, you find that there were 5 people who ranked the blog a perfect 10. 5 people since the ranking was reset that morning."

Well, that is interesting... lets look at the rankings:

Seeing Red AZ (8.43)
Daniel's News & Views (3.88)
Sustainability, Equity, Development (3.31)
Politico Mafioso (2.89)
ThinkRight Arizona (2.87)
The Arizona Report (2.38)
Random Musings (2.29)
Arizona Political Heat (2.06)
Mesa Issues (2.00)
Espresso Pundit (1.57)
Red State Arizona (1.56)
AZ Political Intel (1.56)
Arizona 8th (1.13)
The Sonoran Alliance (1.11)
AZPoliticalNews (1.00)
Gabby Watch (1.00) (1.00)
Musing (1.00) (1.00)
AZplace (1.00)
El Gringo (1.00)
Rum, Romanism and Rebellion (1.00)
AZNetroots (1.00)
LiberalDesert (1.00)
Sacred Mountain Blues (1.00)
m2powered communications solutions (1.00)
Data Port (1.00)
Blog For Arizona (1.00)
Man Eegee (1.00)
LIGHTHOUSE (1.00) (1.00)
Spidelblog (1.00)
A Democrat's Lament (1.00)

Not that these rankings really mean anything, but could it be that it only takes about 5 people to skew the rankings so heavily? If 5 people come on every day and give Seeing Red AZ a 10 and the rest of us a 1, it might just be possible.

Don't get me wrong, I read Seeing Red AZ, just like a lot of other people do and I generally like what the guy has to say. Its just interesting that it appears that a lot of effort is taken to try to control the BNN rankings.

Waveyard Early Ballots

The Republic is reporting that the Waveyard Ballots are "heavy" in the east part of the city. When you look at the numbers, it looks like about half of the people who have requested the early ballots are from District 5 and 6, which put together, make up the large portion of the east part of the city. I think someone told me once that these guys usually end up being about half of the vote to begin with, so them having half of the early ballots is not that much of a surprise.

However, the real question here is: How do they feel about Waveyard? Do they support it? Would they rather have it closer to them or further away? Do they see the city as a whole and understand the benefits to them or will they vote no because its not in their area? Therein lies the real question.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

District 5 down to 4

Here are the 4 finalists for the City of Mesa District 5 Seat. Phil Austin almost didn't make the cut. Interesting... You would think that the Mayor might have passed his list around before making it public so he could avoid problems like this. But that is Mesa for you, I guess. Here are the finalists:

Phil Austin
Occupation: Lawyer
Years in district: 4
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Terry Benelli
Occupation: Executive director, Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

John Perkinson
Occupation: Real estate development, investment
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? No

Darrell Truitt
Occupation: President of Engineers, Planners and Surveyors Group
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? Not probable

I would bet that Benelli and Austin are going to run for this seat, no matter what. So, that should be an interesting race by itself. It would be a shame if the council were to pick one of them, because it would clearly give them an advantage. So, if the council wanted to avoid that, it would come down to John Perkinson and Darrell Truitt. What they don't mention is that Perkinson is on Scott Smith's campaign... I found that out after a bit of snooping (well, its actually quite blatant on Smith's site). And Truitt looks to be a transit guy - I wonder how that will go with the conservatives.

I would have put the money on Austin at the start, but that was before the council had a hard enough time getting him on the consideration list. Now it has gotten a lot more interesting.

21-1 - Hats off to the Rockies

You have to hand it to the Rockies. They have been downright unstoppable during the final stretch. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised with anything that they do. They might even sweep the World Series at this point. Who knows.

I am very proud of the D-backs and how they played this year. Lets hope that they can put a run together for a few years to come. Who knows, when bad contracts like Ortiz and Johnson finally come off the books, we may be able to get some free agents.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Waveyard Update

Waveyard Commercial

I was looking around this weekend and looks like Waveyard put their commercial online. Looks like things are going well with the election, but not quite as well as the Valley and State version of this article let on. Did anyone else see that? Looks like the online version has slightly more accurate information.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A bit of Griswold irony

A commenter named "Mesa" hit the nail on the head:

"I find it interesting that Rex Griswold chimed in about the length of time a roadside memorial can stay up and then decides to put his campaign signs up so they can sit there on the corner for 5 months. Typical for someone in the City of Mesa to do something like that and I'd love to hear what he would say about it now after his signs started popping up."

You got to hand it to the guy. He can advocate for the removal of roadside memorials and then without batting an eye, put his campaign signs up a week later. You stay classy, Rex Griswold.

Now, we are stuck seeing his smiling face up there for the next few months, but thank heavens those memorials will be removed! Personally, I think that the inevitable blackened out teeth and arrows drawn through Griswold's head are going to be much more distracting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I still think D-Backs can do it!

Not quite the classy showing one would hope for on National TV. However, before Denver turns their nose up at us, they should remember that it wasn't too many years ago that Denver's own fans were throwing snowballs on the field at a Broncos game. Thats the snowball calling the waterbottle a projectile... or something like that.

They need their bats to come alive and for Doug Davis to have a good solid start tonight.

Welcome Light Rail!

Metro's Greatest Hits

Great video from Espresso Pundit this morning. I admit, I am a sucker for those "World's Craziest Police Chase" shows. How did those guys miss the huge train coming behind them?

I am going to reserve any judgement on Light Rail until the thing is up and running, but you have to love watching things run into other things. Maybe more people will go to D-Backs games when they can just drive down the street to a place like Tri-City, get on the train and go downtown. Who knows if it will work, but I am at least willing to give it a shot.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

D-backs in 6!

Look for Brandon Webb to have a solid start tonight to kick off the NLCS! I think that they can pull this bad boy off and bring us back to the World Series. I know that some of the national folks out there say that this isn't what they were hoping for, but you have to admit, both of these teams are playing out of their mind right now. Lets hope the 4 days off have helped to cool down the Rockies.

Twelve people want to represent District 5

The Tribune is reporting that there are 12 people who have signed up to be considered for the District 5 position. Here are the candidates:

Phil Austin
Occupation: Lawyer
Years in district: 4
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Terry Benelli
Occupation: Executive director, Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Christopher Benjamin
Occupation: Business owner, real estate broker, investor
Years in district: 4-plus
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Charles Brown
Occupation: Real estate property manager
Years in district: 18
Considering running for a permanent seat? Not at this time

Dina Higgins
Occupation: Metal sculptor
Years in district: 14
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Vern Mathern
Occupation: Retired from Boeing
Years in district: 11
Considering running for a permanent seat? No plans

Robert Meko
Occupation: Retired elementary school principal
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? May consider

Gerald Paulus
Occupation: City gas division director
Years in district: 3.5
Considering running for a permanent seat? Undecided

John Perkinson
Occupation: Real estate development, investment
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? No

Buddy Petsch
Occupation: Stockbroker/financial adviser
Years in district: 10
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

Darrell Truitt
Occupation: President of Engineers, Planners and Surveyors Group
Years in district: 21
Considering running for a permanent seat? Not probable

Pete Tufts
Occupation: Commercial Realtor
Years in district: 5
Considering running for a permanent seat? Yes

For those counting at home, there are 6 people who are definietly considering a run, 2 undecideds, and 4 who are saying no. However, even some of the nos sound wishy washy. I think it might be best to think about selecting one of the people who says that they won't run. That way someone gets to perform a civic duty, and we get a competitive District 5 race, which will be interesting and fair. I think that Councilman Rawles spoke about kingmaking, and in this wide of a field, I think he may be right.

The real question is: How many of these people will run if they don't get selected to the seat?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

People are brutal sometimes

Bob Schuster poses an interesting question to the blogosphere about Compromise needed on roadside memorials. Looking at the comments so far, most of the people are pretty much against them. However, some of the comments seem a tad brutal.

People are complaining about the distractions... well, I have been driving in other cities and sometimes the statues in the middle of the streets can be distracting, but you don't hear people calling for them to be taken down. So are campaign signs and advertisements for that matter, should we take them down as well?

Just as with those other roadside distractions a compromise should be found on this issue, especially in Mesa. I think the city has enough to do that a code complaince officer shouldn't be out ticketing roadside memorials that aren't causing anyone danger.

If the city really wants to do something, perhaps a 6 month limitation should be placed. Then perhaps some sort of memorial can be erected somewhere and people could donate money to have the memory live on in some sort of distracting way. And the money from the memorial could go to fix the potholes in the streets.

Now THERE is an idea!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Scott Smith survey and trust

I heard someone talking about this bit of interesting information coming from mayoral candidate Scott Smith that was being passed around the internets today. Its apparently part 3 of an email thing that he has been sending out. I didn't know about this before now, but I do have to say that the results are interesting. Sure, they are far less than scientifically accurate, but in a lot of ways they sure seem to reflect some of the prevailing opinions out there.

Going back to the beginning of his discussion I'd like to comment on a few things:

  • Smith says that 38.5% said that they do not trust the city to spend as promised. And another 26.2% said they were unsure. He adds them up to say that "64.7% of the survey participants saying that they have questions about the way things are done." Perhaps I wouldn't go as far about those unsure folks, but the people who took his survey sure don't seem to be happy with the status quo. I think that Mesa tends to be a little cynical, but this does seem like a problem... that is, of course, if his numbers can be trusted.

  • Wow. The the average rating on the health of the city was a 1.82 out of 5. That is a lot of people voting 1 which Smith defined as a crisis. I wonder what Griswold and Walters think when they see things like that? I am sure they would say that this is "merely a perception problem" but in this case, isn't perception really reality? Unless they can come out and say the city is not in a crisis, I don't know how they don't come off sounding defensive against this point if Smith starts pounding on them with it.

  • Finally, at least these people are consistent. How do you get out of a crisis? You “Find Economic Opportunities” which Smith says ranked as the number 1 priority of the survey participants. I am glad to see that people are willing to do more than just lament on the current situation. We certainly need someone who is looking for solutions.

I am not saying that anything that Scott Smith has released represents any sort of scientific reality, but it is interesting in the realm of putting forth a discussion. Will Griswold and Walters be able to mount a credible defense against this?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Waveyard Myths ...Busted

Great editorial in the Tribune this weekend: Myths fall to Waveyard’s realities

The Editorial goes on to answer the concerns about water, the parks, and the revenue incentives deal. Here is the most important line:

"If Waveyard doesn’t reach at least $2 million in credits each year, the developers must pay the difference to the city out of their own pockets."

Mesa is protected and we get a pretty cool place to go that should attract people from all over. Plus, in the end, we all know that the City could use more revenue.

I can see the few same angry bloggers are booing and hissing over the Tribune taking a stance and answering the questions. Of course, as is their custom, they ignore the things that the tribune is saying and attempts to go on the offensive about the Tribune itself or the politicians who are supporing it. Its the same ad hominem attacks (look I did learn something in school) that don't prove anything, but make them feel better.

Sorry Cubbies

With great apologies to all of my friends who are Cubs fans, but better luck next year! Besides, next year will be the 100 year anniversary and that will be a much better story for ESPN. I loved the sign that someone was holding up that said something along the lines of "Next Year is your year!" Plus, lets hope that means they come to Mesa hungry and playing well during spring training. We need all the help we can get to stay at the top of the attendance rankings.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ballfields and Water - Mesa's Promise

Here is the the third in Gary Nelson's series on Waveyard: Mesa gives assurances on ballfields, Waveyard water supply. It shows me that the city, in some form, understands that there is a lack of trust from the voters. They are doing a lot to try to help alleviate the concerns about Waveyard as people begin to vote, so the decision will be more about the project itself instead of about if the City will do what its supposed to.

I think if you look on the merits of the project, Waveyard is a good idea for Mesa. Here's why:

1. Its going to be like nothing we have ever seen before. People will come to Mesa just to check it out. Just like how people come to Sandusky, Ohio just to go to Cedar Pointe.

2. We need the tax revenue - and I'd rather have tourists pay it. We shot down a property tax, and we are all complaining about the rising utilities costs. Lets do something to help offset the taxes that we pay.

3. Its a good deal. I know that people hate incentives deals, but sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The City seems to be fairly protected in the deal - heck, even VBO and Tom Rawles seem to be in support of the way the deal was written.

Naturally, there will be people out there who will doubt the intentions of the city and the developers no matter what happens. I came across this great blog post about Waveyard and wouldn't you know who couldn't resist to comment, but "Mr. Fuzzy Hat" himself, JT Ready. See, JT believes that the city is always up to no good and no matter what they do, there is something wrong with their actions. He thinks that developers have black hearts and everything they do is sinister. Also, he believes that he should chase down Hispanics and try to arrest them. Plus, he was the founder of the minutemen and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Woo hoo! 2 - 0.

Anybody. Anytime. The D-backs showed once again that they can beat you a million different ways and the support can come from anyone. It still cracks me up that the national media is trying to talk about how the Cubs keep screwing up instead of how the D-backs are playing well. They have had solid pitching, timely hitting, and unbelieveable relief so far. Let's hope they can take it to Wrigley over the weekend and bring it home. Maybe finally the NL West will get some respect if both the D-backs and the Rockies can pull it off. However, I hope they keep playing as hard as they are now - this is not the time to be over confident.

Here is one question: Why are they starting the games so late? They are starting 7:00pm our time, which means 10:00am Eastern Time. The game finished by about 11:00pm here, which is 2:00am out there. Heck, I am tired by 11:00 and I certainly would have trouble staying up till 2:00am to watch a game. The result is: no one watches the game. Perhaps, that will work to our advantage as people continue to underestimate us.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Waveyard Park issue might be settled

The City of Mesa has identified replacement park sites that they would consider for relocating the softball fields if Waveyard passes. I, for one, am glad to see that the City is at least working in the right direction towards coming to some sort of conclusion prior to the election.

I understand that the final site will probably not be picked by the time the election comes around. And why should it? The City should be very careful about the promises they make based on something that is still up in the air. Hopefully, they have a process in place, and lets all pray that it involves the neighbors in the area, since they seem to have strong opinions about it.

Parks are very important for quality of life, and I respect that people want this issue resolved. As I have said before, I am not against cutting back on a few parks for the time being to make more money to help pay for the essentials, but I know that many people don't agree with me.

Let's hope that this issue is settled to the satisfaction of those involved so its not standing in the way of their vote on Waveyard.

Crime rate is down...

Congratulations to the Mesa Police Department and Police Chief George Gascón for lowering the overall crime rate in Mesa. I think targeting serial criminals and taking the proactive approach to making the streets safer and helping reduce drug and gang activity in our neighborhoods.

However, one question still nags me. I read awhile back that response times are increasing because the Police force is stretched too thin. How does that stat relate to the overall crime rate? I think its a very important piece to the puzzle that must be discussed as part of the discussion.

Like I said...

Lots to post about today. How fun!

The Tribune has an excellent editorial today about the pay raise issue and the City Council. Look closely, and you will see that the newspaper hits on many of the points that yours truly has espoused on this very blog. Two lines that especially rang true to me:

"A council salary raise would be a difficult sell in Mesa under any circumstances, and an impossible one right now. "

"Mesa needs to engage residents instead of further alienating them."

Now Walters was defended by the Republic saying that she wasn't aware that the Tribune was going to make this a big issue. Whether that is true or not, these councilmembers need to learn not to speak in hypotheticals, especially when there is nothing to gain from it. We get it, you have opinions on things... and thats all well and good, but hey maybe you should focus on the issues at hand, and not walk down the merry path that is only going to tick people off. I am sure that there is some reason for why they "should" be talking about it, the council always seems to have an excuse on why they do what they do. However, I can tell you two things for sure:

1. Voters don't want to know how hard you think you work.

2. Voters don't want to know that you think you are underpaid.

Go D-backs!

That was a heck of a game last night. It was really fun to watch, and it was also pretty cool to see the stadium full once again. I know a lot of longtime Cubs fans because their connections to Mesa and the long tradition of Spring Training. In fact, I will fully admit that the Cubs were the team I rooted for before the D-backs came to town. I was glad to see that when push came to shove, a lot of my friends who are Cubs fans and will continue to support them in spring training decided to support the D-backs.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

You can't stop the rainin' by complainin'

Here's a couple of the things that I don't get about Mesa. People don't want a property tax - the election made that clear. They don't trust the council - which is pretty self evident. They want things to stay they way they are - yet they are unwilling to support anything that might help.

I was looking through the opinions today and I saw this one by David Gundlach. Its just oozing with a sense of entitlement. Tell me, Mr. Gundlach, what do you think would be the right deal?

Here's what I don't understand. If the City is supposed to be making all sorts of cuts to make sure that we have enough money for Police, Fire and Roads, why not sell off some land that could be put to a better use to make more money for the city? If we need to tighten our belts to make things work, why not cut back on a few parks or use a few pieces of city property to a higher and better use?

When you are broke, you don't keep spending money on things like going to the movies or candy. You start looking for ways to spend your money wisely and perhaps look around your house and see what you aren't using any more and perhaps hold a little garage sale.