Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let the train go

Citizens of Mesa have 2 months to raise $10,000 bucks or else the Pioneer Park Train will be sold. I remember back in the day when people would come from all over to let their kids play on the train. Of course, this was back when kids didn't really need seatbelts and playground equipment was made out of real wood. By golly, I bet the paint had lead in it as well. Yet, some kids survived to have kids of their own!

First, I am glad that the council is not coughing up the money. At least they have the sense to avoid that debacle when they are cutting Police by $7 million. Since the train has been fenced off since the 90's, I say we should just let the thing go.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brady's review

It will be interesting to hear what is said at City Manager Chris Brady's public review in the upcoming weeks. Here is the outline of what was said in the closed session. I think that most people think that he has a done a good job, and I think that he has made a lot of wise choices. Now, if you look at the comment section of the article, you wouldn't think that. But I think therein lies the challenge.

Brady spent some time talking about educating the public, but I still don't think that the word is getting out. Having only 4 people show up to the bond review is a clear indicator that people don't get the message. Its going to take more than, "if we host it, people will come" attitude. People must be motivated to participate.

The City Manager alone can't be the only one touting the successes. If you are your own biggest cheerleader, people just think you are patting yourself on the back. If you don't get people to participate and become educated, you need to keep doing it until people get the message. You can't leave well enough alone. For too long that seems to be the city's M.O.

Reminds me of Tri-City

Gee, this story sounds familiar. The VF Factory outlet mall is now only half full.

Does anyone else remember the slow death of Tri-City Mall. First shops started to close, then the shoppers stayed away, and before long it was just a creepy sort of knicknack magic shop and a dollar movie. Will the Factory outlet be an abandoned shell before too long?

When we hear about everything that needs to be done about Fiesta Mall, why don't we hear a similar efforts in that Mall? We are hearing a lot about the growth and development that wants to come in, but we must also take care to encourage people to rennovate what we already have.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rex Griswold is "kind of a big deal"

In the comments from yesterday, someone sent me a link to a new blog called "Griswold Watch." From the looks of it, this guy doesn't really like Rex Griswold. He uses some pretty funny quotes from "Anchorman" to get his points across. I wonder if the name is supposed to be like the "Panda Watch" in the movie.

I think its interesting that the Pro-Rex site (Mesa Issues Impostor) and the Anti-Rex site (Griswold Watch) seem to have popped up right around the same time. Is this just a sign of the campaign heating up or is Rex Griswold a polarizing figure? Will the Sonoran Alliance predictions come true?

I think the attention to this race is only going to grow as we get closer to Election Day.

District 1 Mudslinging Heats Up!

Here is a the article from the Tribune about last weeks District 1 debate. Better late than never, I guess. Its interesting to see the views of the two different candidates. Richins speaks more about the community feel of District 1 and focuses on the neighbors while Tolman focuses more on the politics and being critical of the current council. Both are interesting strategies that will attract people. While the candidates seem to be fairly cordial to eachother, at least nothing was noted in the article, the more interesting bits of information have shown up in the comments section:

Tolman is being called a "slum lord" and "part of the political machine" because of his property management business and close connections to Charlie "Shame on Mesa" Powell.

Richins is being called a "political leech" and a "good old boy" because he works for the West Mesa Community Development Corporation and has worked with the City on various projects.

Talk about guilt by association! Lets not talk about the issues, lets talk about where the candidates work and who their friends are. That is certainly a good bit of political dialogue.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is the Tribune going to endorse?

Awhile back, I wondered if a glowing article about Claudia Walters from East Valley Tribune's Jim Ripley was an early hint at who the Trib was going to endorse. Then, today, I see that Ripley has now published an article about Scott Smith giving him some rather glowing praise. I was asking a friend of mine about this issue today and he reminded me that the Tribune typically does not endorse candidates. I had totally missed that point. Is that true? Are they not going to officially weigh in on one of the most important elections in the past 20 years of Mesa?

Anyway, the story that Ripley tells about Smith is pretty interesting. It takes the wind out of the sails of those rumblings you hear about him being a "millionaire developer" sounds like he had to work pretty hard for his money. I also thought the Palo Verde tree discussion was hilarious because its just the kind of things that shows why people have no confidence in the city to make decisions.

How hard did Mesa try to keep Mattas?

Thanks to everyone who sent me tips since I posted my email address in one of the comment sections about Matta's closing. I am now getting a lot more interesting details about a lot of things including the situation around closing the restaurant down. For those who haven't figured it out, you can send me your insider information to

Here is a tip that someone sent me:

"Without going into too many details that I can't 100% confirm because although they come from extremely reliable sources, I only heard a few of them first hand from the Mattas. Matta's tried working with many people from the city including at least one city councilmember to relocate downtown. There was basically no offer from the city of any help or even a real concern that Matta's would be closing down. The Matta's weren't looking for a handout but they were looking for help with things like permits and the likes if a new building were to be built or an existing one remodeled because of age. Riverview was an option pushed quite a bit and it will more than likely be a place one of the sons will go... I'm sure time will tell and I wish this were a story the reporters really picked up on because I know it goes deeper than this."

I think that Riverview would be a great option for a restaurant, but certainly not the only option for replacing the one that is shutting down. Mesa should be working with these guys to grow their business. This rings especially true since Mesa would see less sales tax from the project since they still have to give some of that money back to the developers as part of the Riverview incentive deal. I hope that Mesa can work harder to sustain businesses.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thanks for noticing!

According to Az Poltical Intel, we are ranked 16th among active conservative Arizona blogs. This is pretty great considering that we focus on very local Mesa issues. Combined with decent ratings in BlogNetNews as of late, we are pretty happy for the attention.

You should make sure to check out the list. There are a lot of other worthy reads on there.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Weak Showing from the Mesa Chamber

This just in. In the Mesa's Mayor's Race, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce has endorsed... EVERYONE. Gee, that certainly makes it a valuable endorsement. I wonder if any of the candidates will have the guts to try to put a note on their signs.

I am very disappointed in the chamber and their outcome. This is a time for Mesa to make some serious decisions, and the chamber has taken themselves out of the equation. I would bet that there was some serious factions within the Chamber each who wanted to support a different candidate. The chamber was big time behind the property tax campaign which was supported by all three candidates. I am sure that they all made friends inside the chamber along the way.

So now, instead of duking it out behind closed doors to pick a winner - and coming out in support of one candidate, they decide to become a spectator on the sidelines. Talk about tough decision making. What does the business community have to lose in Mesa?

Budget Cuts for Mesa Police

Mesa, we have a problem. Now, we have come to find out that the Mesa police are facing $7.2 million in budget cuts in the midst of our slowing economy (Here is the Republic's take as well). They are saying that its not going to impact emergency situations, but its going to severely impact response times on smaller investigations such as car break-ins and other things.

First, I find it highly doubtful that having fewer officers on the streets will allow us to have the same level of service now. Second, its the ability of the police to respond to smaller items that helps our quality of life.

A few years back, my car had been broken into. It took the police almost a half day to come out and check out the car. When they did, they ended up leaving stickem from their fingerprint kit on my doorframe that took over 6 months to come off. That was a half a day that I was stuck at home waiting for these guys with a car I didn't want to touch so it would be just as I found it. I wonder if people in other cities have to wait as long.

I admit, thats just a little thing. My bigger concern is if something big happens, but it takes the Police a long time to get to us because the closest officer isn't racing to me, but rather racing into the station to clock out to make sure he doesn't get into overtime.

The comment section in the Republic has devolved into an immigration debate, which so many of these things often do. I think the bigger issue is that Mesa doesn't have the money to keep up with what they need to do. This is a much bigger problem than something we can pin on the illegals. Its not like the tide of immigrants started a few years ago and this is what caused Mesa's financial problems. This is a problem that has been known for almost 20 years and nothing was done about it until its almost too late.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

District 3 Forum

Sounds like another fun time at these rotating district debates. This time the Republic is reporting from District 3 where former Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh and newcomer Mark Yarbrough are squaring off. I don't know if Yarbrough has any signs up yet, but I saw some of Kavanaugh's up in the Fiesta Mall area, and I wasn't sure if he was running for council or selling some off brand of soda.

Anyway, it sounds like once again the crowd was the star of the show. It seems to be that people are fed up and they want to make their voice heard. They all seem to be fed up about different things, but one thing seems to run through all of these comments that they don't like the way things are. I thought it was interesting that Kavanaugh came out in favor of the Primary, the Secondary, AND the retroactive Secondary. Thats a whole lotta taxes that he is in favor for in a town that has shown that they want to vote down taxes. To be fair, I think I read back during the Property tax election that two precincts in District 3 actually voted in favor of the tax, so who knows, maybe he is appealing to them.

The reports I am getting is that Yarbrough has a lot of enthusiasm, but not a lot of answers or polished ideas. Kavanaugh clearly comes off as the veteran in this race, but we'll see if he still has enough cache to drive him over the finish line.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Matta's Revisted

Looks like as the original Matta's closes, there might be a few others to take its place. I have heard some completely unconfirmed rumors that one of them might be at Mesa Riverview, which could be a good place for them. It would also make sense for them to perhaps try to get in on the ground floor at the GM proving grounds project or somewhere like that. This is, of course, assuming they will stay in Mesa.

It would probably be easier for them to try to open up a place in Gilbert or Chandler. This is the kind of thing where Mesa needs to step up and do what it takes to keep the Matta family as a part of our City.

Mesa Riverview vs. Tempe Marketplace

There is a very interesting comparison piece between Mesa Riverview and Tempe Marketplace in the Tribune on Sunday. This story was especially interesting to me because I happened to be at both places the night before. On Saturday night, while we were out, my wife and I decided to take a stroll through both shopping centers.

It was about 8pm on Saturday night, and the District in Tempe Marketplace had not one but two perfomances going on. Near the bookstore, they had an accoustic guitar player hanging out playing songs while people walked about. Near the center part, they had a full rockband complete with horns playing. Now, I didn't think the singer of the rockband was all that good, but the band sounded great. The restaurants seemed to be pretty busy, but the stores (which pretty much just freestanding stores you see in a normal mall) were all pretty empty. The vibe was nice, although I think they need a few heaters in some of the common areas.

So, then we packed up and drove over to Mesa Riverview. The place was pitch black. At first, I thought that Tempe Marketplace may just have better and more obnoxious signage. Then, as we pulled in on Bass Pro Drive, you could tell something was wrong. No streetlights, no stop lights. The power was off in the entire place. We drove around the place anyway, and most of it was closed probably due to the power outage. So, its hard to make a direct comparison. However, you could see that there was still a full crowd at the wine bar.

I think that if you just compare the two shopping districts, its clear that Tempe Marketplace is on top right now. However, its not really a fair comparison to compare the two projects just based on those districts. As I was leaving, we were facing right smack dab at those auto dealerships, which are also part of the project. My wife also reminded me of the hotel that is coming. When it comes down to it, its going to be more difficult to make an overall direct comparison.

City Attorney Making Friends All Around

The Mesa City Attorney has made a ruling in the campaign fund limits regarding Scott Smith's personal loan to his campaign. Not too surprisingly, Rex Griswold and Claudia Walters are none too happy with the results.

They thought that the cap was going to be blown off and they would be able to raise a bunch of money from whoever they wanted to match Smith's loan. However, they are instead, only going to be allowed to raise enough uncapped money to get their donations up to what Smith's total loan amount was. So, as the story reports, in Griswold's case, its about $20,000 more. It is my guess that Walters can raise about $40,000 or so from whoever she wants as well.

Griswold, who has shown he has some supporters with deep pockets, seems particularly miffed. He says, that he "can't understand the logic." Well, Griswold seemed a lot happier when he got off the hook with another City Attorney ruling.

I know that some people have strong feelings about Smith dumping a bunch of his own money into the race. As the City Attorney says, there is nothing preventing them from dumping their own money into the raise. And while that is highly unlikely at this point, I question who the other candidates would go to to get additional funding. Would they go find someone with deep pockets to finance their campaign for them? And if so, what influence would that person have over the course of the election and the candidate if they won as mayor?

If Michael Bloomberg jumps into this presidential race and dumps a bunch of his own money into the race, is he "buying the election?" Mitt Romney has put a bunch of money into his campaign already, does anyone accuse him of wrong doing? Smith is competing against people who have been on the council for 5 and 8 years respectively. Is anyone all that surprised that he needs to pay to get his name out there?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hurricane Bay Club

Hurricane Bay wants to build a club in East Mesa. Needless to say, some of the neighbors aren't going to be very happy about this. However, they can't complain about everything. We have to let some kinds of businesses to come into the community. Every corner can't be a drug store, gas station, or worse, pay day loan store.

What is funny, is if this were a TGIFridays or some other restaurant, these people would probably be fine. Instead it is a themed club and bar (locally owned, I think). Now, apparently, thats just going to open the floodgates of drunks and loud noise into their quiet little community. Seems a little extreme to me.

$250,000 for the name they already had?

People wonder why there is a lack of trust in the City Council. Well, it might be that we are in a $12.5 million budget crunch, and the city spends $250,000 on a consultant to tell them to name the Fiesta District... wait for it.... the Fiesta District! Wow, that sure feels like money well spent.

Okay, well, maybe I am being a little dramatic. I understand that the name was chosen by an online poll and there is probably more to the plan than just picking what they already had. I am sure there will be "branding" and all sorts of fancy stuff. This is once again, one of those cases where Mesa can't help themselves from tripping when they try to put their best foot forward.

See, we are still weeks away from the branding and months away from the investment aspect of the study. But they felt it necessary to come out with the anticlimactic name change first. This seems to take the air completely out of the process and certainly casts a shadow over the final product that will be presented.

I can imagine how it happened: Poll wraps up on the website. The directions are, when the poll is done, announce the winner. So, the name is announced. A job well done. No critical thinking needed.

The fact is, when the poll came back and they saw that nothing was going to change, someone should have thought to themselves, "Gee, I wonder if we should announce this now." Or if they have a higher level of thinking, perhaps they should have thought, "Well, we are paying a lot of money for this survey, clearly, the name change is not going to be enough, so lets wait until we have a whole packaged idea to roll out."

What would be your images of Mesa?

Interesting new book out talking about the history of Mesa through images. I haven't checked it out yet, but I bet it will be neat to look back through the city's history and look at the way things used to be. I hope they don't do very many modern images or we may be stuck with things like:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Matta's is closing on Main Street

I am very disappointed to announce that Matta's will be closing their doors. I can remember back in the day when Matta's was the place to be. Pictures of Mayors on the wall, the place packed with people, kids playing in the fountains, and the "Lone Ranger" from those old car commercials used to show up and be treated like a celebrity (at least by the kids).

I guess my first question is: Did anyone see this coming? Now, last time I was there Matta's was the exact same as it was 20 years ago, same decor, same food, same ancient waitresses. So perhaps it was time for them to upgrade. However, this is a family that has been operating in Mesa for over 50 years - they have suffered through economic downturns before. Is this a really bad downturn or is there more at work here?

Perhaps all of the rumors are true. Maybe Mesa IS a bad place to do business. Maybe its harder to get things done in a town without a nightlife that struggles to offer basic services. Every time it seems like the city is heading in the right direction, something like this comes up. Two steps forward, two steps back.

District 2 Debate

I have to wonder again if the the Tribune and the Arizona Republic even attend the same events. The District 2 forum took place and it sounds like a lot of interesting things happpened. Well, at least thats how the Arizona Republic sees it. The Trib has a much more ho hum report on the forum.

As for the district candidates, I think that the bond package is going to be more of an issue as we move forward. Alex Finter wants a sales tax dedicated to Police and Fire. Manny Cortez supports a secondary property tax. Two different ways to solve the same problem, neither method is going to be all that popular. Especially since our sagging sales tax revenue is what has put our deficit at $12.5 million. As people have more time to look at the bond package itself, whats contained in it, and how much its going to cost to pay for it, I think its going to creep more and more into the debate.

It sounds like the candidates might have had some trouble getting a word in edgewise among the comments in the crowd. First, I am glad to see that people finally are showing up and making their voice heard. Second, I completely agree with Jeff Eger when he says that its time to "Make Mesa fun again." Its a concise way to talk about some of the real issues that face our city.

From there, it seems to have devolved into a "woulda/coulda/shoulda" debate about the primary property tax. I don't really know if that is helpful because its clear where the voters stood on that whether they like it or not. However, Mesa should be a city that can sustain business and keep up with the things that they are committed to do. Clearly, like the people said in the forum, there is a problem.

So, the real question is now, who do you trust to solve it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Make it Flake

There is an effort to get Congressman Flake appointed to the Appropriations committee so he can fight pork and add to the overall goodlookingness of the group. If you are interested, I recommend checking out for more information.

A bias at the Republic?

Here is an interesting catch from the Espresso Pundit blog about the Republic's coverage of the District 3 race. The comments section is also very interesting as well.

I see in the comments that Exurban Jon is, in fact, in favor of a property tax. I wonder what his take is on all 3 candidates for Mayor saying that they would stay away from a primary property tax.

More Light Rail Trouble

There are some problems with cracks in the Light Rail line in the Mesa/Tempe segment. I will continue to wait and see how this whole thing works out. This project has been under the microscope so much that anything is going to be newsworthy. So honestly, I can't truly gauge if this is a big deal. I wonder if freeways turn up with cracks that get fixed without anyone saying a word. We need to at least think of alternatives, especially since Freeways are coming out at $40 million a mile!

I am neither a light rail advocate nor a light rail enemy. I have seen public transportation work in other places as long as people realize that its more of a public service than something that will probably ever pay for itself.


I thought that it was interesting that Traffic came back as the number 1 problem in the Neighborhood meeting. I am not saying that they are wrong, but there are sure a heck of a lot of concerns that I hear out there from my neighbors and in the blogs and comments sections that point to something other than traffic.

I'd say that immigration is probably number one. Look at any comment section of any news story that has a stitch of immigration talk about it has about 5 times as many comments as any other story. Second, I would guess is probably Mesa's finances. We have known for a long time that the city is in financial trouble and people want to know whats being done about it. In fact, the traffic is probably a symptom of the larger financial problem of Mesa not being able to fix its streets.

However, I definately agree that neighborhoods should do more with neighborhood watch. You know what is going on in your neighborhood better than anyone else. So, take a little responsibility and help the police get the pulse of what is going on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Please tell me someone is going to bid on Robosaurus. I would just drive around town in it blaring old Monster Truck commercials. "SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!"

I also hear that a General Lee will be auctioned off as well. I may have to come back up and check out the auction this year. Its been several years since I have gone.

More Debate Coverage

In an interesting twist, we have the Tribune's take on the Debate hosted by the Arizona Republic last night. I watched some of the debate and I will tell you that I didn't think the performances of any of the candidates were all that inspiring. I thought that Walters attacked Smith a lot and Griswold was pretty smart to stay out of the fray. However, Griswold also didn't really answer very many of the questions either.

Jason Masaad seems to be having a small love affair with Griswold. I certaintly didn't think that Griswold was "sounding an urgent note that the city needs to change its ways" while the other two candidates made it sound like everything was a-okay. This is not the first time where Masaad has glossed over the other candidates and put together a more favorable review of Griswold.

I also thought that Walter's "4th vote" comment just reitterates how entrenched she is in the procedure. It sounds very hopeless and it smacks of being too close to the problem. There is a difference between understanding how government works and being so close to government that it becomes almost too difficult to change. She continues to say that they found the financial problems and have started to fix them, when many people knew for a long time that there was a problem and no political will to fix it.

Smith had his one liners, but I am waiting for more substance. He has carried the "outsider" flag well, but the other two have coopted his change message. Now, he needs prove why he is a better candidate than the other two. Clearly, at least Walters is put off by him because she attacks him every chance she gets.

The attacks help her stand apart from Smith, but it doesn't really set her apart from Griswold. Are we heading towards Smith/Walters mutually assured destruction leaving Griswold standing at the top of the heap simply by staying quiet and telling people what they want to hear?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Is this local news or Police Beat?

I clicked on the local news section of the Tribune today and I can't tell if its about the local goings on in Mesa or if its the police blotter. Home Invasion, robbery, car accidents, and a surly gentleman who decided to start throwing salsa. I know that doom and gloom are often what sells stories, but this is downright depressing.

Is it that there is so much crime in Mesa that the Trib can't do anything but report it, or is it just a newspaper hurting for headlines that people will read?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Real Mesa Issues Sets the Record Straight

Well, I am quite honored to be mentioned in the Sonoran Alliance blog today, one of the best, if not the best political blog in the State. Who knew this hoopla over the copycat site would lead to some additional focus on this site and Mesa politics in general.

I think I need to set the record straight. Clearly, the other Mesa Issues is an anti-Scott Smith site. They have posted 3 posts, 2 of which slam Smith directly. Plus, thats not even to mention the LDS themes that were originally posted and then erased.

However, I don't think that I have been "stumping" for Scott Smith or any other candidate as the blog entry insinuates. The fact of the matter is that I haven't really made up my mind in the race. Sure, there is a lot more to criticize about the longstanding councilmembers, but that doesn't mean I line up directly with Smith. I have been attempting to call an even contest and point out the victories and flaws of all the candidates.

In fact, many people have told me that my post, Breaking Down the Mesa Mayor's Race, is one of the most fair assessements of the stregths and weaknesses of the candidates.

EDIT: Well, it looks like the other guys are Pro-Griswold/Anti-Smith.

Good News for Riverview

Looks like a Hyatt might be coming to the Riverview site. I think that this is good for the site and some of the parts that have yet to be developed. It will also have an interesting impact on Waveyard and what kind of hotel deal they are going to be able to swing. Overall, I think that this is good news for the area.

I have talked to some folks who were pretty disappointed several months back with how Riverview was turning out, especially when you compare it to Tempe Marketplace. You have to hand it to Tempe Marketplace, that area is really neat, especially compared to the (literal) dump that it used to be.

I'll admit that my first impression of Riverview was pretty underwhelming. It has taken some time, but its important to look at the big picture. Look at the dealerships that are coming in. Now, look at the hotel that is coming in. These are the types of projects that help bring real tax dollars to the city and attract sustainable development. This will, in turn, attract more retail, which will fill up the rest of the complex. I hope it will all work out - I think its just going to take a little bit longer than expected.

Walters gets the Republic treatment

Vice Mayor Claudia Walters was the third and final mayoral candidate to get the puff piece treatment with the article that ran on her in the Arizona Republic today. I have to say that the headline is a little deceiving. I guess in the absolute literal sense, yes, she is a change over the last few mayors and the other candidates because she is not a businessman. But that doesn't really mean she is an agent of change. That would be like saying we should vote for her because she is a woman and the last few mayors were men, or we should vote for her because she has reddish hair and the last few mayors had different colors.

You have to give her credit - after 8 years on the council, she really knows her stuff. She does come off as a policy wonk and no one can really match her breadth and depth of understanding. It almost sounds like she would be better off as a city manager or a high ranking staff member instead of a city leader. I guess this comes off as a blessing and a burden. Many of the commenters question her ability to change after 8 years on the council. It sounds like she gets that a lot because most of her article has her coming off sounding defensive. Same goes for the Tribune article.

It seems like everytime someone brings up an issue, its Walters who has to disagree and come to someone's defense. It seems like Griswold lets her take the heat, while trying to play the inside/outside card to its fullest.

Overall, we haven't learned much from these three articles other than, as I mentioned before, all three candidates are trying to cling to the mantle of change. Each of them is now trying to make their pitch on why they would be the best to bring about change.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The plot thickens on the Mesa Issues impostor

First, I want to tank Exurban Jon for his kind words in the comments section on the impostor site:

"Since there is already a long-established, well-read blog called 'Mesa Issues,' you should rename your site to 'Mesa Politics' or something. Intentional or not, it is definitely bad form to co-opt someone else’s name."

Thanks buddy! The name "Mesa Politics" may not be correct either. Jon and others may like to know that the intentions of this name stealer may be sinister. A political insider shared this interesting bit of information with me this afternoon after doing a bit of Google snooping. Here is an image that was sent to me:

Here is what the insider had to say about it:

Try Googling Mesa Issues and look what it pops up. Nice how he changed it when they figured it would be too obvious of what kind of site it really was. Notice the LDS candidate. Where in the Tribune or any other news report did it ever mention Scott was LDS?"

I didn't know that Scott Smith was running on the LDS ticket. How did he win the title? Does Claudia Walters know about this? Now, perhaps I am reading too far into this whole thing, but I guess I don't have much to go on. The site has 3 posts, two of which are beating up Scott Smith, and one of which decided to bring up religion.

It is interesting if nothing else.

Scott Smith is an "outsider"

Ah, I see how its going to go. Each candidate is going to get a puff piece this week, not over the upcoming weeks as I predicted. Here is the latest piece on Scott Smith from the Arizona Republic. Its an interesting factoid that no one has won for mayor without being on council first since the 1960's. Perhaps Smith knew this when he pumped more of his money into the campaign.

I don't think the insider/outsider thing is going to work so well, especially since Griswold is trying to do the same thing. He probably needs to do a little more to set himself apart from Griswold in that regard. I would be interested to hear more about his "village" concept, which I think might be one of the first real ideas I have heard come from any of the candidates.

I, like some of the commenters, can't wait until tomorrow to read the piece about Walters. Then we can see how these puffs measure up.

Gee, where have I heard that name before?

Looks like someone who doesn't really have any creativity and seems to hate Scott Smith has decided to open up a wordpress account. Good for them.

Of course, they could have certainly contacted me and asked to be a guest blogger before ripping off my schtick, but hey, to each their own I guess. I would have prefered they picked their own name instead of copying mine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tribune Candidate Forums

Got questions for the candidates? Here are a bunch of dates below where you can show up and make sure your questions are asked and your voice is heard. I would definitely recommend showing up and seeing at least one of these debates in person. Here are the details:

January 10 - 6:30 p.m.
Legislative District 19 Republicans
MCC Red Mountain
7110 E. McKellips Road

January 14 - 6:45 pm.
Televised mayoral debate
Mesa City Council Chambers
57 E. First Street

January 16 - 6:30-8 p.m.
District 2 and mayoral forum
Mesa fire station
815 N. Lindsay Road

January 22 - 12-2 p.m.
District 3 and mayors forum
MCC Navajo Room in student union building
1833 W. Southern Ave.

January 23 - 12-1:30 p.m.
District 5 and mayor forum
MCC Red Mountain
7110 E. McKellips Road

January 24 - 6:30-8 p.m.
District 1 and mayor forum
Westwood High School
945 W. Eighth Street

January 30 - 6:30-8 p.m.
District 4 and mayor forum
Mesa Southwest Museum
53 N. Macdonald

January 31 - 6:30-8 p.m.
District 6 and mayor forum
Jefferson Elementary School
120 S. Jefferson

Rex Griswold likes puppies and long walks on the beach

Here is an interesting puff piece on Mayoral Candidate Rex Griswold from the Arizona Republic. It is my guess that we will see a series of features like this one each of the candidates in the upcoming weeks. One of my political insiders sent me this link to the Candidate survey responses. I haven't had a chance to read through them just yet, but I am glad to know that they are out there.

Overall, it was a good story with an interesting background on Griswold's business saavy and his experience on the council. I don't know why its a risk to educate people, but hey, I will take his word for it. I thought he had good answers and he really is trying to position himself as a person who could bring change, but one comment really bothered me:

"We're the piƱata of the East Valley," [Griswold] said. "We let lies sit on the table, and they become the truth."

The guy has been on the council for 5 years, and he is admitting that they allow lies sit on the table to become truth? Perhaps he is trying to say that Mesa has a perception problem, but thats not really what he said. Plus, if he admits there is a problem, why didn't he use his time to fix it? I see from his questionaire on the side that he had no part in the Bailey's Brake Shop debacle, but has he done anything to fix the problem?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Will Mesa's Election get lost in the Presidential Shuffle?

Here is a very interesting story from the Tribune about Mesa's election. One of the more interesting comments in this story is the notion of the “insider versus outsider.” On the face of it, that seems to be the simple break down. You would think that the question would be: Do you want a change, or do you like the way things are going? However, the candidates aren't making it easy.

Look at what all 3 are saying:

“They want change and to see a city government that understands and responds to their needs,” [Scott Smith] said. “That’s what we’re running on.”

“I do have the experience of five years, and on day one can hit the road running and making vital changes,” [Rex Griswold] said.

“It’s time to change the message in Mesa,” [Claudia Walters] said. “That’s what I’m talking about.”

So, I guess that all three have seen that "change" seems to be popular and are running with it. Going back to my question, since we see that everyone is going with a change message, we can assume the converse: none of the candidates like the way things are going. That really seems to play against the incumbents. It says in the article that Walters has been on the council since 2000. So even after 8 years, she still doesn't like the way things are going?

I guess the real question is: who do you believe with the change message?

Father Dale

Say what you want about him, but people love Father Dale. Even after being told to avoid his services, over 600 people showed up over the weekend to attend Fushek's "parachurch" at the Mesa Convention Center. I bet it was an interesting mix of the hopeful, and those curious to see the spectacle. I'd be interested to see if St. Tims was light this Sunday.

Now, would I attend the services of someone still under investigation? Probably not. Its hard to say if this is some sort of stunt to get people to look past his misdeeds or if this is a genuine attempt on his part to continue to offer his services to those in the community who are in need? It will be interesting to follow this story either way the Supreme Court opinion comes down.

If he is cleared, would he go back to the Catholic Church who has been standing in his way? If he is found guilty, how many of the 600 will stick with him no matter what?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Council jumps in Immigration Debate

Tom Rawles and the city council have jumped in to defend Gascon on immigration. Its not all that surprising that Rawles picked up the mantle on this because "personal freedom" seems to be an issue right in his wheelhouse and because he is one of the people who is falling off the council. Its an interesting way for the council to take a stand without making a commitment of anyone who is sticking around or running for Mayor.

You can read the entire speech by Rawles transcribed in Joanna Allhands' blog. I thought it was interesting that Rawles places the notion of being a "sanctuary city" at the feet of the council and their decisions at least twice. He proceeds to defend their actions and attempts to fight these perceptions.

The problem is that too often perception is reality. People from all over are saying that Mesa is a sanctuary city, and so it goes until Mesa starts to defend itself. Rawles has proven before that he is willing to take a stand, but I wonder if the rest of the council will follow suit. This is going to take more than one outraged speech to turn the tide.

Also, I think its very interesting that the comments appear to have been turned off in the online edition of this story. Is it such a divisive issue that people are unable to have civilized dialogue?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Property Tax Question Lingers

All three of the candidates for Mayor looked to have ducked the property tax question in their last public meeting. Its the question on many people's mind and I know that there are many people who are basing their decision solely on that answer.

The funny thing is, in this case, I agree with all three of their answers:

- Smith says that people don't trust the council.

- Walters says that steady debt needs a revenue source attached.

- Griswold says that the old timey 1940's model doesn't work.

All three answers sound all fine and good, but none of them answer the question. Two years ago, we were told that there would be major cuts if we didn't have a property tax. We voted it down. What happened?

We have debt backed up and refinanced so poorly, that we are going to be stuck paying it for a long time... and now the council wants to issue secondary property tax to cover that bad debt. Where do they stand on that?

I know that people don't want to hear the answers, but one of these candidates need to step up and tell it like it is.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Scott Smith kicks it up a Notch

Looks like Scott Smith decided to kick off the New Year with a bang. I'd say that he is pretty serious about his run. I know that the guy is a former CEO, but donating $70,000 seems like he is in it to win it. Now, that the limits are off, it will be interesting to see if Griswold or Walters are able to respond by getting some more big ticket donations.

I have hearing more people talk about Smith more recently, but I don't really blame him for wanting to get the word out more. He hasn't been on the council for the past few years, and he doesn't have the city to pay for pancake breakfasts for him to attend. He is going to have to work hard to get the word out. He is probably going to have to work twice as hard in advertising and knocking on doors to beat out the incumbents. Look at Obama and Huckabee, they are kicking it into high gear and its getting results.

You have to love Griswold's comment about "buying the election" especially when he has dumped his own money into the election, broke the spending cap first, and then tried to back off of it by giving money back. The commenters are really letting him have it over that.