Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Go Southeast, Young Man

The mayors of the East Valley cities and other government entities have formalized their process for working together to develop and coordinate their efforts in the Far Southeast Valley. With all of the news surrounding Gateway and the GM Proving Grounds, its sometimes hard to remember that so much else is going on in that area including Superstition Vistas and the other developments around Pinal County.

This can only bode well for Mesa as a large portion of the infrastructure and economic opportunities and jobs can be centered around the Gateway area. While people may scoff about that area becoming the new downtown for all of Mesa, it certainly could be the downtown for the Southeast Valley.

Fresh and Wal-Mart coming to Mesa

Wal-Mart is going to compete directly with Fresh and Easy with their new Marketside brand. Needless to say, there is going to be one in Mesa. In fact, before too long, I would bet that there will be several in Mesa if the concept takes off. Let's just hope that they don't let this guy in.

Its a very interesting write up about international competition and how Fresh and Easy's parent company basically forced Wal-Mart to compete in this upscale small marketplace concept. According to the story, if the concept succeeds, their distribution chain could have 1,000 stores up and running in less than 18 months. Everyone always says that no one can take on Wal-Mart, but clearly this shows that the market and other competitors have forced them to rethink some of their methods. No matter what, there are people who are going to think that they are the epitome of all evil.

As for me? I just like to save money. If you can get me cheaper food with a slightly nice ambience, I'll be there.

Are you now rooting for the Cubs?

Now that the D-backs are out, are you starting to root for the Cubs? I know I am, especially since they open up against the Dodgers. You can check it out on the big screen down at Hohokam on Thursday and Saturday. I am sure that all of the Chicago transplants will be out in full force.

Speaking of Hohokam Stadium, Mesa has decided to pay off the loan for the stadium 8 years early. According to the story, the city will now have about $2 million more a year to pay for other things. According to my calculations, that means that the city was going to pay about $16 million over the next 8 years to cover the $9.7 million loan. Seems like a good move on their part.

Of course, the joy of bringing the city towards financial freedom may be short lived since it will likely take stadium rennovations to keep the Cubs in Mesa. Afterall, its going to take something to keep the playing across the street from a cemetary while other new stadiums have popped up all over the Valley with retail and other exciting opportunities nearby.

Perhaps if Waveyard is a victim of yesterday's financial disaster, the City should ponder using their land to build a new stadium near the 202. That would bring more people to Riverview and there really wouldn't be a need to tear down the ball fields. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have the Cubs AND Waveyard, but I think its a good idea for the city to have backup plans.

Bond Forum at Noon Today

Looking to learn more about Mesa's bonds?

Be sure to check out the forum today at Noon at MCC in the Navajo Room.

If you can't make today, MCC is doing another one on October 6th at 6:30pm in the community room at MCC Red Mountain.

Still confused about the ballot initiatives? You can learn more about them on October 7th at 6:30pm at MCCs Main Campus.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thank you to the Arizona Delegation

Thanks to all 8 of the Arizona Congressional Delegation for voting no on the bailout bill. Its great to see that some things can be bad enough that everyone agrees that its a stinker. I don't always agree with our delegation with all of the things that they do. I sometimes question the local politics that they do or do not decide to be a part of. However, in this case, my sincerest thanks goes out to each one of them for keeping an eye out for the taxpayer.
As other blogs have reported, part of the reason that the bill failed was because of the negative speech that Speaker Pelosi gave right before the vote. I will be curious to see if Pelosi is more well behaved this next time around. Unfortunately, I believe that chances are some sort of bailout is probably going to pass.

I think that in the longrun the bailout will only stunt the rebound of our economy. Its not a bad thing to shake out the bad debt and let things start with a new slate. There will ways to recover - ways to make money. Heck, look at Mesa. Things could not have been more dire two years ago. Voters roundly rejected a property tax and the city was forced to make cuts (not as deep as they threatened, but still). All confidence was lost in the council, and it was clear that change needed to happen.

Since then, things have started to turn around. It has taken time, but sometimes things must be broken down before they can be built back up. The failure of the property tax is probably what has lead to Waveyard (hopefully), the new Council and Mayor Smith, and the growth opportunities around Gateway and with the new Gaylord project.

Early Ballots start this week

Well, it sure has been awfully quiet these last couple of weeks. You'd never even notice that Early Ballots start in just a couple of days. The mailbox has been conspicuously empty as of late with only a few postcards trickling in here or there. It looks like most campaigns are either broke, trying to save money by blinding me with signs, or waiting until later to drop their payloads.

My guess is option 3. I have little doubt that McCain will win Arizona, but I do think voters are going to wait until after a few debates and a couple of more sketches on SNL before they make their decision. Besides the marriage amendment and the payday loan initiative, I have seen very little from the other campaigns.

It will be interesting to see if this economy supresses some of the typical election efforts that we have seen in the past.

The Tribune has weighed in on their recommendations on the ballot initiatives and local bonds. In Mesa, they have come out in favor of the public safety and street bonds, and against the "slum landlord" law.

I have seen very little about the bonds except for the coverage in the Republic. It will be interesting to see if things are different from a few years ago and if voters see a different between bonds and a property tax.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Infrastructure needed

Speaking of Gateway, there is an interesting article in the Republic today about the need for infrastructure out in south-east Mesa including a fire station that is equipped to handle the needs of the growing area. In fact, they have planned for a dual purpose station that can help handle the needs of the community and one that can handle fire emergencies of the airport.

Sometimes lost in the midst of the budget cuts that we have suffered through for the past few years is the fact that there have been no money to pay for the needs of the growing parts of Mesa. East Mesa has grown, but the facilities have not. They simply don't have the same police, fire, and street amenities that some of the more established parts of Mesa have.

These types of basic needs are what is included in the $170 million proposed bond package. Take a look at the package for yourself so you know what you will be voting on. If you recall, the Mayor and Council took a look at the bonds and made some siginifcant cuts to the original package.

Two years ago, voters rejected a property tax. Since then, they have voted in a new Mayor and Council touting change and building trust. We are seeing change in things like Gateway, but how does that become an economic engine if the people aren't safe and they have no way to get to and from their jobs?

So Long Google

Well, the Google in Arizona experiment has failed. Two years after setting up shop in Tempe, they have decided to close their office and move everyone back to California. Two years ago, their entrance into the market was touted as the next big shift in our growing economy. Sadly, they didn't even make it long enough to see the light rail operational.

Looking back, there were a lot of people who were disappointed that Mesa wasn't even part of the conversation when Google came looking. Now, two years later, Google is gone, and a megaresort is coming to the Gateway area. Looks like the short term loss didn't harm the long term gain.

It will be interesting to watch over the next few years to see how business grows and shifts throughout the Valley. Gateway looks like its going to be the next big thing, which is great, because its essential to Mesa's long term financial stability. So, when some other upstart comes to town or ten years from now, when Google comes calling again, maybe we'll see them out in Mesa instead of crammed into Tempe.

More on Pearce and Nativio

Not quite sure why Pearce and Nativio are arguing over federal issues, but its good to finally see some life flowing into the District 18 Senate General Election race. They also discussed quite a bit about the state of the budget, which is good, but no word on what they will cut.

Nativio has also launched a series of youtube. I haven't seen them on TV, so I don't know if they are being shown anywhere, but this appears to be where he spent his primary election money. I have to give the guy credit for making a run at this, but it will be interesting to see how he fairs in this Republican dominated district.

Pearce Attacker Launches Blog

Nathan Sproul, the guy who ran the personal attack campaign against Russell Pearce, has started a blog to talk about the issues that he thinks are important. I say welcome to the party, at least he recognizes that he is a little late.

Anyway, the only thing I wanted to note is that yours truly, is not among his blog links. Perhaps its because I have been a little hard on the despicable tactics of "Mesa Deserves Better."

However, he does have a link to Thoughts on Mesa, who was equally critical. In fact, those guys once said "One can only surmise that Gibbon's and Sproul are working this dirty campaign as one and who know maybe this will end up in fraud charges again for Nathan."

Eh, you win some and you lose some I guess. Anyway, welcome to the blogosphere.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gibbons sure is gracious in defeat

I have had a couple people send me over some stuff that Kevin Gibbons has said in the wake of being thumped by Russell Pearce last week. Here are two really caught my eye:

One was from the Yellow Sheet, which is the daily gossip report of the Capitol Times.

"He told our reporter last night Pearce’s victory was due to a combination of low voter turnout and 'brilliant' maneuvering by Pearce’s campaign managers. The voter turnout portion of Gibbons’ strategy was obvious, as core voters in LD-18 love Pearce, and he would be unable to sway them. But the strategy from Pearce’s camp, he said, was 'very, very interesting.' 'His handlers muzzled him and probably told him to keep his head down and stay indoors so you don’t put your foot in your mouth,' Gibbons said. Instead of Pearce delivering his message, surrogates, Farnsworth, his wife, local party officials and the like, took the message to the voters and media."

The other is from Arizona Republic's Political Insider.

"Gibbons then took it another level, leveling complaints against ... the voters themselves. His campain noted that 'revelations of Pearce's disturbing voting record and personal associations seem to have been ignored by voters.'

Gibbons capped it all with this assessment comparing Mesa voters to those in Washington, D.C., who cast ballots for Marion Barry following a 1990 drug bust for crack cocaine use and possession.

"'I don't think we should be surprised,' Gibbons wrote. 'Let's face it, Marion Barry was twice elected mayor of Washington, D.C.'"

So, Kevin Gibbons is going around telling the media that everyone is to blame besides him. Perhaps if he had spent a little time telling the voters who he was instead of directly attacking Pearce, he would have had a little bit of credibility to stand on. Certainly, all of the personal attacks on Pearce didn't help Gibbons, but Gibbons and his team did very little to build the Gibbons brand. What did he stand for? Who was endorsing him? How was he going to work with Mesa? These are things that he should have been working on. Plus, as I have mentioned before, it became abundantly clear that Gibbons knew about the attacks ahead of time when he donated the money to the domestic violence shelter and the Anti-Defamation League.

Blaming everyone for ganging up on him and comparing Russell Pearce to Marion Barry is sure going to get people excited to support him the next time he decides to run for something. Losing an election is not the end of the world, but losing it bitterly and being a sort loser is something that people will remember.

Mesa Proving Grounds Update

The Planning and Zoning board has approved DMB's plans for the Mesa Proving Grounds. They say that there is still more work to be done on the specifics, but the zoning change recommendations and other big things are being forwarded to the Council for their September 22nd meeting.

Also, the deal that will bring the mega-resort to Mesa has been outlined. There will be no sales tax rebates for the project, but the developer will get to keep a portion of the bed taxes to promote tourism. This is money that would have normally gone to the Mesa CVB. Since they will be required to use it to promote the area, its appears like directing the money that is being generated by the site into promoting the site to bring in even more tourists. Sounds like reinvesting in the project.

They will also get a deal on their property taxes. Which, if you think about it, is a pretty good deal for Mesa since we don't have a property tax. In all, after the last few deals being focused on sales taxes, I think voters will be happy to see other creative ways to generate revenue for the city. Perhaps this is the shift we need to start broadening the financial base of Mesa so we can count a future that is not tied directly to the boom/bust cycles of sales tax.

Mesa blogger needs help after plane crash

Blogs can do some pretty amazing things. Its inspiring to read about people coming to the aid of someone they don't even know. In this case, the author of the blog Nie Nie was critically injured in a recent plane crash. Check out the blog and see what you can do to help.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mayor and Council - 100 Days

There has been a lot of search traffic lately for "Scott Smith 100 Days Mesa." Perhaps its one person trying to do a lot of reseach or there are several people looking for answers.

Quite frankly, I was fairly surprised to discover that it has been almost 100 days. The new council has been on the job since June 2nd. There has been a lot going on, and I would say that the general positive impression of this new council is still going strong. Let's go back through Google news and some old posts and quickly weigh the positives and negatives of what has happened since then.

- Council keeps promise of cutting bond package
- Mayor comes back from DC with immigration and transportation news
- Light rail testing begins in Mesa
- Mesa announces new logo
- Fiesta Mall expansion
- Mesa announces new immigration policy
- Mesa launches Park sponsorships and volunteer sign removal
- Mayor puts Mesa in national spotlight at national economic gathering
- Mayor picked for next head of Airport authority
- Allegiant Air expands
- Mesa announces Megaresort at GM Proving grounds

-Golfland hit with Employer Sanctions violations
-Water and sewer rates increased
-Police sue over time needed to put on uniform
- Sheriff Joe and Chief Gascon battle in public
-Mesa Public Schools announce budget cuts
-40% of Mesa home sales were foreclosures

I would have to say that, overall, in the first 100 days, the Mayor and Council have taken several positive strides to lead Mesa in the right direction. I am assuming that the old council probably should take some credit for the positives and negatives since some of these issues have been in the works for some time. However, this Mayor and council have been able to take the ball and run with it and get people to follow. The bond package in November will truly be a test of the goodwill set forth by this new council.

HUGE news for Mesa

In case you have been living under a rock, there is some big news for East Mesa and the newspapers want you to know about it:

-East Valley Tribune: Mega-resort, conference center coming to Mesa

-Arizona Republic: Megaresort may help jump-start Ariz. tourism

-East Valley Tribune: Grand Ole Opry owner plans huge hotel in Mesa

-Arizona Republic: Gateway: How hotel deal came together

At first blush, I thought that they were trying to build a Grand Ole Opry in Mesa, but the reality is much different. What is in the works is a mega-resort and conference center near the Gateway airport complete with 2,900 hotel rooms, golf, at least 200,000 sq. feet of convention space. In all, it represents $1 billion in local investment. Take a look for yourself to see what the other Gaylord properties look like. Their latest appears to be the Gaylord National which opened in DC.

Still no word on exactly what the City has to do to land a project like this, but its great to see that Mesa is being competitive for projects like these. There are a lot of questions to still be answered as Jim Ripley points out. Of course tourism is cyclical, but last time I checked, Climate was still one of the five C's for Arizona. Tourism events like spring training, the bowl games, and other events seem to take place year after year. Why wouldn't Mesa try to fight for its share of the dollar especially with such a different attraction?

We'll see how this progresses, but one thing is for certain: this will certainly set the tone for development around Gateway.

District 18 update

Here are the latest Election Results from the county recorder. Looks like Court has started to pull further ahead of Middlebrook. His lead has grown from 72 votes to 109 votes and I have to say that it looks like this one is probably over.

One other interesting observation is that Pearce's 6410 votes in the Senate Race is 775 more than Gibbons (2869) and Nativio (2766) put together. Certainly, more people will be turning out in the General Election, but it looks like it will be a steep hill for Natvio.

What will be interesting is to see if Pearce, Ash, and Court are able to team up for some slate mailings. It saves money, but there may be some tension. Court was the only candidate that didn't openly endorse Pearce in the primary.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Election Results

Well, the Elections results are in and there are several interesting races to note:

First, Russell Pearce trounced Kevin Gibbons with 68.8% of the vote despite having a lot of money spent against him. It looks like the personal attacks didn't work. Gibbons seems to be willing to still run his anti-Pearce message even after the race is clearly over.

In the District 18 House Race, Cecil Ash has won a seat with Court and Middlebrook separated by on 72 votes for second place. What is interesting is that Court had a 180 vote advantage coming off of early ballots. The gap closed significantly with election day voters. Now, the question is, are there enough uncounted ballots to tip the scales?

In the 22 Senate Race, Vershoor was able to beat Farnsworth with a vote of 42% to 38%. Will this be a big enough victory to solidify his chances for Senate President?

In the 22 House Race, Biggs won handily with a fairly decisive victory for Hendrix as well. Some people say that Brown's tiff with UPS hurt him in the closing days of the election. In fact, if you look at the results, he got the fewest votes on Election Day, receiving 1102 votes, while Armer received 1263, Hendrix received 1468, and Biggs received 2170. However, the fact is, the race was won on a big lead in early voting.

All in all, its being hailed as a big night for conservatives. Let's see how a higher turnout in a Presidential General Election will impact these races. I'll be that the Democrats will claim that it will work to their advantage, but I wouldn't discount the appeal of having McCain/Palin at the top of the ticket.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Today is Election Day

Remember that today is Primary Election day. Make sure to vote.

Good luck to all of the candidates as they make the final stretch. I have heard that things in the Russell Pearce/Kevin Gibbons race continued to heat up over the long weekend. I have had several emails pour in telling of more postcards, newspaper ads, and even some new signs with arrows pointing to Gibbons' signs talking about his record and pointing people to www.realkevingibbons.com.

Part of me will be sad to see the Pearce/Gibbons race end because it has been so interesting, but the partisan races for November should pack a punch.