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."