Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote Yes on Question 1 and Question 2

The Tribune has an excellent article covering the needs that are included in the two bond questions that will be decided along with everything else on Tuesday. If you think this is just some sort of giveaway, take the time to look at their slide show and tell me if you think the Police and fire people have enough room to do their job effectively.

I can see that the same old naysayers are at it again telling people to vote no. Clearly, they have their thoughts about taxes and the function of government. However, this time around, their argument of Mesa being a wasteful city just doesn't ring true.

First, we have a new city council who started out by cutting the bonds to make them as small as possible. To me, that doesn't sound like a group trying to line their pockets or spend money unwisely.

Second, we have seen actual cuts to police and fire announced. I know that people think that this is just a stunt, but when the government wants to punish people, they take away softer things like libraries and museums. To borrow a term from someone in the article, its "political suicide" to cut money to emergency services. Seems to me like the cuts seem pretty serious.

Finally, if other people are having to make cuts to their budget or try to find ways to squeeze out more money, why shouldn't Mesa be doing the same. I don't know about you, but I have been seeing a lot more yard sales lately, with people looking for ways to make up for lost revenue. Mesa's budget is sales tax driven and has been losing already, even before the economy went in the tank.

In the end, I think its best to vote Yes on Question and Question 2. We are talking about $19 to $40 a year depending on how much your house costs. For that, I think its worth it to make sure that we have people who can respond to emergencies and keep Mesa safe. I think the new council has earned a shot, lets give it to them and see what they can do.

The election nears

Here is a great recap of the District 18 senate race, which has been relatively quiet. Well, a nuclear blast would be considered relatively quiet compared to the mudfest that was the LD 18 Senate primary. You have to give Pearce and Nativio credit that they have both stuck to their issues and offered a consistent message.

If the lines for Early Voting are any indication of the turn out on Election Day, you may want to wait 2 hours for an early ballot instead of 4 hours or more to vote in person. Its great to see so many people participating and here's to hoping that they take the time to learn about the rest of the ballot and participate in local issues as well.

If you would like to vote early, the closest location in Mesa is:

Maricopa County Elections Department (Mesa) - 222 E. Javelina Dr., Mesa

Major cuts for planned freeway expansion

The local association of governments is looking to make major cuts to the freeway plan that is supposed to guide this valley for the next 20 years. The cuts will be about $4.5 billion and a lot of freeway projects on the chopping block. Look for big ticket items like the South Mountain Freeway to probably fall off the map.

Needless to say, this is fairly disappointing since the plan is only a couple years old, but the economy has certainly taken a turn for the worse. However, I do have to say that the timing is bad to be talking about cuts to freeways and watching the different parts of the fighting to keep projects just as the light rail is starting to go up and running.

I understand that they are two different items and the money comes from different places, but people are going to naturally connect the two and be under the impression that we are sacrificing freeways for light rail. While not necessarily the case, that is the perception out there.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Robbery Case just keeps getting weirder

Awhile back, I wrote about the value of knowing your neighbors and having them look after your house when you are out of town. This was in the wake of a guy burglarizing a house and living there for awhile before the family came back.

Well, the case just keeps getting weirder. Now the police have arrested a 3rd man in connection with the robbery. The story says that not one, but two people were living in the house, and the third guy is the one who helped pawn the goods for drugs. You'd think that neighbors might be able to miss one guy coming in and out, but three druggies? I mean, come on!

Glad the police were able to track these guys down. In these tough economic times, we should all do a little more to make sure we are on the look out for crime and do our part to keep the neighborhoods safe.

Looking for a pet?

Make sure you check out the Pet Adopt-a-thon at Mesa Riverview a week from Saturday. There will be around 30 different rescue groups at the event, which means there should be a lot of different animals to choose from. Its a great reason to go out and check out the event and spend some time shopping in Mesa.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get ready for Photo radar on the US 60

I don't know about you, but I started to avoid Scottsdale's section of the 101 when they put the traffic cams in. Not because I love speeding, but because I don't think its fair to be busted going along with the normal flow of traffic. Well, it looks like nowhere is safe anymore. The US 60's traffic cameras will be activated by the end of the week.

So, look out for getting caught speeding on the 60 at Alma School, Mesa Drive and Gilbert Road. Also look out for people hitting the brakes and causing accidents in an attempt to not get cited. Remember that the limit is 10 miles and over. So, if you are going 75, you are going to get ticketed.

Don't worry, its only a $181 ticket to help the state budget. It doesn't go on your permanent record. But that's certainly not just a cash grab or anything. I have heard a few people call them "Janet Cams," which I think may end up being the Governor's legacy if she skips town to join Obama if he wins.

In their own words: Cecil Ash

We have asked each of the legislative candidates to submit their own editorial to be posted on Mesa Issues. Over the past few weeks, we have posted responses from each of the candidates. Here is the final in our series "In their own words" with Legislative District 18 House Candidate Cecil Ash:

The recent bailout (aka “the rescue”) by the federal government has prompted anew queries concerning the appropriate role of government. What seems evident is that we have greatly strayed from the original purposes of government, and more specifically from the Constitution which formed our government. Who is responsible for this deviation? While Republicans would blame Democrats and Democrats would blame Republicans, the fault most directly lies with us as a people. Those who have made the decisions to exceed constitutional authority have, after all, been the elected representatives we’ve placed in office by democratic vote. As with any time we point the finger at someone, there are three pointing back as us.

Speaking collectively, and not individually, we have voted for those who offered us the most. We have been pandered to, and not only permitted it, but encouraged it by electing those who told us what we wanted to hear: “No work, all ease. All honey and no bees.”

One of the aspects of running for office in this, my first attempt, has been the number of questionnaires one receives as a candidate. Nurses, realtors ®, conservationists, farmers, businessmen, teachers, gays, gun owners, contractors, accountants, apartment owners, social workers, and the list goes on and on. The questions are cleverly phrased to determine whether or not a candidate will vote, if elected, in such a way as to benefit the particular group seeking his opinion. While many of these groups have legitimate concerns, it nevertheless presents significant ethical dilemmas for an elected representative. John Kennedy in his book, Profiles in Courage, discussed this issue. When there is a difference, does an elected representative vote the way his constituency wants him to vote, or does he vote his conscience, and do what he thinks is right? I’m sure there are occasions when either answer is appropriate.

When it comes down to it, however, the only oath that a representative takes is to uphold the constitution. In Arizona, Article 2 of the State Constitution states in Section 2: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

If elected, I pledge to uphold the Constitution. I believe that government should be limited to those matters authorized or permitted by the Constitution. It is not up to the legislators to be nice to people, to manipulate society to accomplish the specific aims of a needy group, or to tax and spend for someone’s personal agenda. I don’t want the government to tell me what charities to support, or to promote a particular business, or to interfere with general commerce. If there is one thing that governments have in common, it is that they generally over-spend and over-regulate.

What I hope to accomplish at the legislature is to control spending, to limit government growth, and to encourage a robust business climate that will hopefully lead to an improved economy. How that is to be done is a challenge. But I’m willing to devote full time to the process. The solutions exist to improve our government. We need to persevere, open-mindedly, until we find them.

I would appreciate your support.

Arizona Republic Healthcare District Endorsements

How funny! The day after I question if the Republic is going to endorse, out come their recommendations. Ask and ye shall receive.

They are recommending:

District 1: Bil Bruno
District 2: Greg Patterson
District 3: Susan Gerard
District 4: Gerald Cuendet
District 5: James Marovich

Mesa is represented by District 2, to which they recommended blogger and outspoken Arizona Republic critic Greg Patterson. The irony was not lost on him. Congrats on the endorsement Greg!

Mesa doing more to keep contractors accountable

Following the dust-up with the Sheriff's office and the subsequent coming to terms, the City of Mesa has announced that they are going to do more to ensure that all of the contractors have employees who are working in Arizona legally.

While the onus is on the contractor, I applaud Mesa for taking the steps to make sure that they are doing their own audit to make sure that the law is being followed. I am glad to see that the city is willing to admit their shortcomings on this issue and let the citizens know what they are doing to fix the situation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The value of libraries

Isn't it funny? When people are looking to do more with less, they turn to public services such as the library. However, when things are going better, we see less focus on the public services and sometimes, even a push to close them down.

I'll admit that I am not that big of a library user, but I recognize the value they provide to the community, and believe they help our quality of life. Many people use the library on a regular basis, doing research, taking out kids books, reading the latest best seller for free instead of buying it at a bookstore.

When the economy recovers and people go back to buying their books and movies, lets not forget why these services are here in the first place.

What has changed?

The Republic has a great write up about the bond questions and the fact that Mesa is revisiting a property tax (albeit a secondary one) a couple years after the voters rejected one.

So, the question is, what has changed? Well, first of all, it is important to note that this election is about a secondary tax, rather than a primary. A secondary goes away when the bonds are paid for and are linked specifically to certain projects. The tax does have an end to it, which was different from the permanent primary property tax which did not expire and many people felt was a "blank check" for the city council.

Secondly, we have a new council looking after the money. Rightly or wrongly, the old council was blamed for a lot of the financial troubles and overspending of the past. Some of the criticism they deserved, and some they did not. Two years ago, they threatened deep cuts if the property tax did not pass. When it failed, it seemed like very little happened.

Fast forward two years, we are seeing actual cuts to Police and Fire, the result of a budget based on sagging sales tax revenues. We also have a new mayor and council, and what seems to be a renewed passion for Mesa. The first thing they did was cut the bonds, which was a smart move because it showed fiscal responsibility on their part and also allowed them to focus on only the greatest of needs.

Finally, we have a very soft economy. On one hand, this make people less likely to dig into their pockets. On the other hand, they are also less likely to think that the City has money lying around that they are wasting on other things instead of using the funds for police and fire. The result is people are paying closer attention to their money, but they are also assessing what is most important to them.

You can see that the comment section has once again come alive with people passionate on both sides of the issue. One side sees the needs, while the other side still seems to blame the city for wasting too much money. I think that we need to think long and hard about what kind of city we want and what services we want them to provide.

Learn more about the Maricopa Special Healthcare Board Candidates

No word on if the Arizona Republic is going to issue any endorsements for the Maricopa Special Healthcare District, but they did write a recap of the 14 candidates and did a profile of each as well.

Based on the search traffic I have received, I would recommend that some media source take the time to write more about these candidates and give people an opportunity to learn more. The numbers continue to creep up as people are trying to google the unknown offices so they can get their ballots completed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Smith and Arpaio Met on Friday

Mayor Scott Smith and Sheriff Joe Arpaio met on friday to discuss the raid from two weeks ago and future sweeps in Mesa (Tribune Version). I am glad to see that they have come to an agreement about warning Mesa before coming back. Of course, they did not say how or when, Mesa will be alerted, but that will be the test of how willing the sheriff is to work with Mesa.

Give both gentlemen credit for meeting face to face to discuss their differences and put everything out on the table. It looks like Mayor Smith had calmed down a bit, and it looks like the Sheriff was actually willing to look at things rationally. In the end, it looks like this chapter can end with both of them coming out looking good.

I hope the result will be improved public safety and a renewed spirit of working in cooperation to reduce illegal immigration, while respecting rights and maintaining public safety.

Pro-bond committee spends money to educate voters

The Yes on 1 and 2 committee has spent about $150,000 to educate the voters in Mesa about the bonds for public safety and streets. I am actually surprised that they have been able to get by with spending so little, since very few people are even paying attention to the bond election.

With Obama and McCain on TV every night and congressional campaigns clogging the airwaves, the bond committee is getting far outspent, probably in the millions. Meanwhile, this may be one of the most important issues on the ballot. We have already seen Police and Fire have to make cuts. We all drive on the roads and know what kind of condition they are in.

Sure, the President is going to have a lot to do with the future of this country, but he isn't the one who is going to make sure that someone is able to get to your home in case of an emergency. Make sure you know the facts and what projects are included in the bonds before you vote. The pro committee has set up a website at They have a map and a calculator which are pretty helpful to see how much its really going to cost.

Get well Stephanie

Awhile back, we wrote about the Mesa blogger who was critically injured in a plane crash. While it still looks like a long road, she has defied the odds and is recovering. After 10 weeks of sedation, she is awake and appears to be responding. Her husband has been released from rehabilitation and their three oldest children are coming to visit. Again, if you want to learn more or donate, you can visit the Nie Recovery site.

I am glad that the Republic took the time to write about this. Too often, the news is about horror and tragedy and crime. Its nice that they have taken the time to give an update about someone who I know a lot of people are hoping and praying for.

Mesa Man and Woman of the Year Nominations

Nominations are being sought for Mesa's man and woman of the year. It is a long standing tradition in Mesa that has been around since the 1930's. They have a website set up so you can learn more about the award and past winners.

If you know someone who has given a lot to the community, this might be a nice way to show your appreciation by nominating them for this award. You have until November 30th to get your nominations in.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Latest Campaign Finance Reports

Campaign Finance Reports were due yesterday. If you want to see how much money each candidate has and what they are spending their funds on, use the links below:

District 18
Russell Pearce
Judah Nativio

Cecil Ash
Steve Court
Tammie Pursley

District 19
Chuck Gray

Kirk Adams
Rich Crandall
Kathy Romano

District 21 (Partially in Mesa)
Jay Tibshraeney

Warde Nichols
Steve Yarbrough
Phil Hettmansperger

District 22 (Partially in Mesa)
Thayer Vershoor

Andy Biggs
Laurin Hendrix

I haven't really been following the District 21 race all that closely but House Candidate Phil Hettmansperger has been on the receiving end of a lot of financial support from the Democrat's Victory 2008 Committee.

Fire department next on the chopping block

The Mesa Fire Department and their transitional response vehicles (TRVs) are the latest to feel the pinch of the slowing economy and Mesa's worsening budget situation. The department is to cut a million out of their budget immediately, which will more than likely include personnel cuts. That seriously means that there will be fewer fire fighters attempting to sustain a city that is still growing.

This is part of the reason that it seems like now, more than ever is the time to support the bonds. The folks over at VBO are saying that they are (surprise) against the bond issues. Their argument is based on the past history of the city council and their perception of Mesa having a history of overspending.

Quite frankly, I think the news today goes directly against their argument. Mesa does not have enough money to cover basic services. They are trying to live within their means with a budget driven purely by sales taxes, which take a tremendous hit when the economy is sagging. The new council saw the economic hardships coming and even cut the bond down so it would be as minimal as possible.

I was looking at the site the other day, and what we are talking about here is probably less than about two dozen projects. Even in these hard times, we need to invest in infrastructure.

Will Cowan be the next MPS super?

Superintendant Deb Duvall and other members of the Mesa School board have made it clear that they think Associate Superintendent Cowan is the right fit to take over after Duvall's retirement. Interestingly enough, the majority of the board who will make this decision will be elected in about a week and a half.

When the new board takes over in January, finding the next superintendant will be one of the first things they have to attend to. It will be interesting to see if any of the candidate speak out before the election on Cowan and if they support or oppose him as a replacement. The simple fact is that only one of the 3 candidates would need to agree since it appears that Lane and Hughes are already on board. However, with such a big decision such as this, I would bet that they are going to try to get to as close of a majority as possible.

The next superintendant is going to face some critical times for MPS. The number of students is shrinking and the district has had to make some dramatic cuts. The next leader is going to have to find ways to do more with less and perhaps be on the hook for some unpopular fiscally driven decisions such as closing schools.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cruisin' USA

Mesa leaders want to bring cruising back to Main Street. This is a fun way to bring a little bit of life back into downtown. Along with the art fairs and some of the other happenings, we could see a little bit of a revival. The next step is to start landing some night time events, such as encouraging charities to hold galas Mesa, and getting other organizations to consider Mesa for their festivities.

Arpaio waited 70 days

Turns out that the Sheriff's office waited 70 days to do something about Mesa's cleaning company after "agents determined that 22 of 25 employees were using Social Security numbers not assigned to them."

Simple math tells you that is 10 weeks. That is nearly a trimester of pregnancy. That is over half the length of the pro-football season. Its nearly as long as people have to vote their early ballots prior to the election.

Take a look at the timeline yourself. If hiring illegal employees were the issue here, 10 weeks would have been more than enough time for Mesa or its contractor to fix the problem. To put it another way, its also 10 more weeks that some one of illegal status kept a job over someone who was here legally. For those ardent illegal immigration reformers out there, is 10 weeks a good enough lag time to enforce the law? Can you look at this and see it as anything other than political?

In their own words: Russell Pearce

We have asked each of the legislative candidates to submit their own editorial to be posted on Mesa Issues. Over the next few weeks, as people reply, we will post their responses. Here is the next in our new series "In their own words" with Legislative District 18 Senate Candidate Russell Pearce:
I'm Russell Pearce, and I would be honored to have your vote to represent District 18 in the Arizona State Senate. The State of Arizona is facing a potential additional $1 billion budget deficit this year and it may grow to $2 billion PLUS next year. I worked with fiscally conservative leaders to fight this overspending budget and make the cuts that were necessary, only to have a handful of legislators’ side with the Governor to pass the budget that is already $300 million short.

The economy is in a downturn, and the last thing that our citizens want is more taxes and increased spending. This Governor with the help of the Democrats and a handful of Republicans have grown the budget an average of 14.3% for the last four years, while inflation plus population has been about 6%. If we would have passed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 2004, we would have a surplus today and would have returned over $4 billion to the taxpayers.

I pledge to work with leaders to make sure the state lives within its means and I will fight the Governor's $250 million property tax increase that is supposed to go into effect next year. When it comes to fiscal responsibility, my opponent promotes increases to the sales tax, the gasoline tax, and the property tax. Despite his claims to the contrary, increases are increases. He can say what he wants about being conservative, but the simple fact is that the voters of District 18 cannot afford his brand of fiscal responsibility.

As a national leader in the effort to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration, I authored Proposition 200 to prevent voter and welfare fraud and have fought to eliminate sanctuary policies. I authored meaningful worksite enforcement laws to stop the hiring of illegal aliens. My opponent wants to leave immigration in the hands of the Federal Government which has a proven track record of doing nothing and ignoring the state’s responsibility to our citizens and taxpayers who bear the burden of failed enforcement. He also opposes the employer sanctions laws which are working to deter businesses from hiring illegal immigrants which is having tremendous success in reducing illegal immigration and its negative effects.

I pledge to continue to preserve faith, family, and freedom at the Arizona Legislature. I have voted 100% pro-life and am endorsed by Arizona Right to Life. I support the traditional marriage amendment (Prop 102) and choice in our schools. When it comes to my opponent and family issues, the details matter. While he wants to reduce abortions, he remains firm on abortion on demand. While he supports traditional marriage for himself, he supports civil unions for same sex couples. While he supports more money for education, he doesn't think that parents should have a choice in the education of their children.

I'm a real conservative and a voice for constitutional and limited government: Rated #1 by the Goldwater Institute, one of 7 legislators nationally honored with the "Hero of the Taxpayer" Award, "Champion of the Taxpayer" by the Federation of Arizona Taxpayers, 6-time winner "Friend of the Family" award, and "The Top Supporter of Republican principles" by the PAChyderm Coalition. I am endorsed by the NRA and Law Enforcement, including AZCops, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, and over 3000 border patrol officers in Arizona.
There is a very real difference between the two parties and their plans for our state. If you want a government that is smaller and more responsive, if you want lower taxes, traditional family values, safer streets and an improved education system, then I ask for your vote. For more information, please visit

Pullen: Nativio and Pursley’s “Do Nothing” Approach to Illegal Immigration

This came across the email yesterday from Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen:

Nativio and Pursley’s “Do Nothing” Approach to Illegal Immigration
Ash, Court, and Pearce give District 18 strong advocates in halting Illegal Immigration

MESA- It is no secret that one of the biggest issues facing Arizona today is Immigration. Not only is there a financial cost that we bear, but a social one too. Increased human smuggling has resulted in deaths on our highways, and drop houses in our neighborhoods. The Arizona Legislature needs strong advocates who will continue to work on solving our immigration challenges.

Democratic Party Candidates Judah Nativio and Tammie Pursley favor legislation that relies on the Federal Government to solve the problems we face in Arizona.

Their solutions are the same sort of rhetoric that have stalled immigration reform and maintained the status quo. We simply cannot wait for Washington to figure out a way to secure our borders and fix our immigration laws.

Arizona last year passed a bi-partisan bill that was a big first step in immigration reform. Even though this passed overwhelmingly, and was signed by a Democrat Governor, Nativio and Pursley want to repeal this law and start from scratch.

Nativio and Pursely’s “do nothing” approach to illegal immigration is simply a delay tactic while people are allowed to continue with business as usual.

District 18 has three Republicans who are more qualified to deal with this problem head on. Their opponents favor a hands-off approach, which will only further this crisis we are facing.
Cecil Ash is committed to withholding free services, public benefits, employment, and other benefits that are granted to citizens and legal residents, in order to remove the motivation for illegal immigrants to come to our state.

Steve Court has pledged to work closely with law enforcement and other public safety organizations to ensure that we provide necessary services in a cost effective manner to reduce violent crime.

Russell Pearce has been a nationally recognized leader on immigration issues. From Proposition 200 removing benefits for illegal immigrants to the employer sanctions laws, Pearce has been champion for securing our borders and enforcing our laws.

When it comes to illegal immigration, District 18 has a clear choice: Ash, Court, and Pearce are the only candidates who will get the job done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome to Mesa!

The megaresorts at the GM Proving Grounds can only exclusively have "Mesa" in their name. No Phoenix or any other city names. Perhaps this is to make up for the Phx-Mesa Gateway Airport name change, or maybe this is just focusing on the fact that this is likely to be the biggest thing in Mesa 20 years from now and is likely to lead how the City is defined.

No word on if they will actually use the word "Mesa" in their name. However, this is good work on the City's part, which prevents a University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale Arizona/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim level debacle.

More on Arpaio

Well, it looks like Mayor Smith has realized that its probably a good idea to sit down with Arpaio and try to work things out instead of letting things escalate out of control. Probably a good idea, since it felt like we were only a week or so away from the Sheriff's tank rolling down Main Street. There are still allegations flying of who knew what and when. It appears that it will take awhile for the complete story to come out, but I would like to note that it appears that Mesa seems to be readily able to produce information backing their claims, whereas, its taking the Sheriff's office a bit longer to do the same.

I wanted to take a minute to add some more clarification to my post from last week about the Sheriff being out of control. First, I want to thank everyone for their positive responses and all of the comments I have received so far. Its one of the busiest posts we have seen in awhile.

Second, I want to point out that just because I think the Sheriff went too far with raiding a municipal complex in the middle of the night does not mean I am pro-illegal immigration. It doesn't even mean I have a problem with the employer sanctions laws. I believe there is a differnce between the enforcement of the law and the abuse of it. There are many other ways to enforce the law and even serve a warrant that do not include breaking into municipal buildings with armies of armed gunmen looking for alleged illegal immigrants who may be working as janitors. Perhaps they could have called the city and spoken to the chief, the city manager, or heck, even the mayor and discussed what they knew. They could have waited outside the facilities for the workers to leave and aprehended them outside. They could have done a public records request and looked for any sort of paper trail regarding the allegations from the anonymous tip and saw if there was any actual follow up.

I am all for enforcing the law. However, I am also all for public safety. I don't know how much is true or false about the allegations and the legality of the workers, but the city and county should have been working together to figure this out before the fact, instead of waiting until after a huge blow up to try to put the pieces together. What could have been an opportunity for cooperation is just another big media debacle, where the Sheriff steps out, does whatever he wants, and the citizens have to spend the next few weeks picking up the pieces. Meanwhile, this spectacle has completely eclipsed the fact that ANOTHER inmate has died in the Sheriff's Jail. The family of the killed inmate has already filed a $2 million suit - and they'll probably win. So, we'll have more fun paying the Sheriff's bills.

Finally, just because I think the Sheriff is out of control does not mean that this blog endorses Saban. The fact is, people should look closely at all the candidates. Saying something critical of one candidate does not immediately translate into saying something pro about the other. There is more to Saban than the fact that he is anti-Joe, which is something he should be working on. We already saw how well it worked for Kevin Gibbons when he ran as the "not-Russell Pearce" candidate. I think he has a little more establishing to do in these last two weeks if he thinks he is going to change people's minds.

Here we come!

Here is a funny cartoon from PolitickerAZ.

Only one change, its the Public Library, not the county library. It wouldn't be as big of a deal if he was crazy enough to raid his own buildings.

In their own words: Judah Nativio

We have asked each of the legislative candidates to submit their own editorial to be posted on Mesa Issues. Over the next few weeks, as people reply, we will post their responses. Here is the next in our new series "In their own words" with Legislative District 18 Senate Candidate Judah Nativio:

My name is Judah Nativio. I am running for our senate seat here in district 18. I have the experience, education and leadership to serve in this very important role in our state government. I hold a bachelor‘s in political science and a masters in the administration of justice and security. I am a past board member of Mesa’s human relations advisory board. I am a current board member for Mesa’s Symphony of the Southwest and a volunteer with Mesa United Way. I currently serve as a Financial Services Manager for Apollo Group’s University of Phoenix, one of the largest employers in our state.

This election we need real bipartisanship and leadership in our legislature, not secret meetings and hiding from not just democrats but members of your own party. My opponent has had eight years in the legislature and of late, serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. We stand today at the worst budget deficit in our state’s history, we see one of the state’s highest foreclosure rates, affecting many families right here in district 18. We have seen and felt the increase in costs for basic services and goods. We see our teachers, police officers, fire fighters as well as government employees with an increase in their pension contributions and health care costs. We see in increase in healthcare costs overall. We see our teachers are still paid below the national average. We see no utilization of solar to help balance and diversify our energy plan. We see a high number of high school dropouts, and a high number of teenage pregnancies.

At this critical point in our state’s economy, infrastructure and moral compass, the question must be poised, are we better off than we were eight years ago and can we do better?

Although one person cannot fix all these issues, one person can start to work with other members of the legislature, with groups, with churches, with influential members of society and organizations to start. We can inspire the masses, we can find innovative ways to fix old problems and help citizens develop their talents and build confidence so people can follow their dreams and find better opportunities. Although government is not charged to be all things to all people, government and our leaders could be there for people when they stand up to ask for help, not a hand out but hand up. Government and our leaders could reach out and be reached for to protect consumers, find regulation that works and provide for the general welfare as charged in the constitution. We can work together to make sure that people are not infringed on nor their constitutional rights so people can reach their potential and capabilities with the least government intrusion as possible. I would like to be the one to start this movement.

Lastly, I am a conservative democrat. I must set the record straight due to attacks on me and my character. I believe in the 2nd amendment. I support traditional marriages. I would work to reduce the incidents of abortion by following through with my pledge to the 95-10 initiative which calls for reducing 95% of abortions over the next 10 years. I support the states effort in securing the border and I believe that taxes should be a low as possible. Lastly, there has been an attack on my family values which I assure you as will my wife, my mother, her republican parents who live in Mesa and many others that know me and endorsed me that I hold nothing higher then my faith, my family and my community. I have real ideas and real solutions to put Arizona back on track. I believe we need to balance the budget without raising taxes. I have worked in private industry. I have also worked for government as a former police officer. I know we can do better…together. I ask you for your support this year to be our next state senator.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mega-Resort goes to the ballot

In the continuing tradition of all Mesa projects going before the voters, the Gaylord Project will be on Mesa's March 2009 ballot (Republic Version here). The developers DMB and Gaylord have agreed to pay for the election, and it looks as if all three groups agreed that the ballot was the best course of action.

Sadly, looks like we are not going to get a repreive from the campaign signs dotting our roads. Its been so long, it seems, since we have gone without them. First, it was the Mayor's race, then the Primary Elections, now the General Elections. The ones for March will probably pop up right after.

From the comment sections you can already tell that this is going to be a whole new conversation about incentives and if they are right and appropriate. The people who oppose them are once again going to point to some etherial "taxes" that are being given away. The funny thing is, from everything in the article, you can glean that this is actually very different from the other elections we have had in the past. Riverview and Waveyard were about sales taxes.

This project is about property taxes and bed taxes. Well, Mesa doesn't charge a property tax, so any money being refunded certainly isn't coming from Mesa. Secondly, according to the Republic story, the bed tax revenue must be "used to promote their Mesa sites and regional tourism in general." Isn't that what the bed tax revenue is used for in the first place?

All in all, its going to be another exciting season, which is good for me because there will be more to blog on. It will be interesting to see how this election unfolds compared to the last few we have seen in Mesa.

Sheriff Joe is out of control

As it was reported on the Front Page of the Tribune and on the Front Page of the Arizona Republic today, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided Mesa City Hall and the Mesa Public Library at 2am yesterday morning looking for suspected illegal immigrants who were part of the company contracted as the City of Mesa's cleaning crew.

According to the story, the Sheriff's force was dressed up in riot gear and raided both municipal facilities looking for the suspects. I am not quite sure what they thought they would find, but its good to know that a mop-wielding man would have had no chance against the armed guard of assault rifles. Certainly a wise expenditure of public funds.

This is the event that breaks it for me. Sheriff Joe is out of control and his vendetta against Mesa and the people who oppose him is eventually going to get innocent people hurt or killed. You can look back over what I have written the past about Arpaio and I have always said that he should work with others and try to coordinate efforts. I also said that he was going to do what he wants and the only thing that he understood was force. All the while, I have understood that people love him and they are going to continue to defend him because, by golly, he was doing something about illegal immigration.

He is using shotguns to swat flys. Do you really think that this is about a few illegal immigrants who may or may not be on a City of Mesa cleaning crew? Not hardly. This is about Joe showing that he is in charge and that there is no one who can stop him. He is willing to go into City buildings whenever he wants and however he wants if it suits him. He couldn't call up Mesa or request the information during regular business hours? Certainly not a rational or affordable approach to solving problems.

How much did it cost the citizens of Maricopa County last night for this debacle? How many deputies worked overtime to strap on their gear and go along with the raid? If these were people already on duty, how many other crimes were missed because the deputies were off the street? What is preventing him from raiding the City of Phoenix next or your home?

I have no doubt that Mayor Smith was pissed off about yesterday morning's events. No warning and misinformation to the Mesa Police Department? Gathering troops with assault rifles in a public park, in a neighborhood no less, without giving anyone any warning? He is right, this is a public safety issue, and quite frankly, the public shouldn't feel all that safe when the Sheriff is around.

The simple fact is Sheriff Joe has a personal police force with which he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Its like his own personal gestapo, KGB or junta. Last time I checked, we live in a democracy with rules that were intended to prevent this type of behavior.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big Day for Mesa

Lots of big doings around town today. Still waiting to learn more about both big issues today. I will have thoughts on everything tomorrow.

Sheriff Raiding Mesa City Hall and Library

Mayor Smith ticked off

The Gaylord project going for a public vote

Nativio replies to latest from Republicans

Judah Nativio has responded to Sherry Pierce's statements from earlier this week about family issues. Here is his response:

"I usually just read and reflect. This release needs a direct response. The title alone is misleading, Nativio opposes traditional marriage, though there is no evidence to support her premise only citing civil unions which many people support (including even those registered republican). For the record, I do support traditional marrige. My wife and I have been happily married for two years. We were married in church. We are expecting our first child in December. My wife and I support families values and how dare those make the claims we do not. Especially with the accusations that my opponent was accused of in the primary.

With that, the author throws out the abortion claim. She does not state my stance ,that was on the same site, wanting a 24 hour waiting (information collection)time, or that I support the 95-10 initiative, reducing 95% of abortions over the next ten years nor a plan to help reduce the amount of incidents in our state and in our district.

Mesa, do not fall for these last ditch efforts. Please visit my website or call me. I am running as my own candidate with my own ideals. Check these claims, and all claims that poeple make. There has still been 0 ideas from my opponent on fixing the budget other then cutting. The same claim he has been making for eight years. Ladies and gentlemen, we must focus on the serious economic issues we are facing."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Economic Development on Twitter

Interesting idea: Mesa's Economic Development is using twitter to provide updates. I have added it to the side bar for now to see how it works.

Adams and Jefferson on Ballot Propsositions

While I am still doing research on some of the ballot props, its always helpful to see what other people are thinking. In this case, fellow Mesa Blogger Adams and Jefferson has taken the time to go through the ballot initiatives and offfer some thoughts. Not only did he cover the statewide propositions, he covered the local ones as well. Here is what he said about Mesa:

Mesa Special Elections

400 series propositions are referred to the people by their City Council and are used to make changes in the City Charter. Questions are almost always to approve bonds.

Proposition 400 – Residential Inspections
Proposition 400 would allow city inspectors/code compliance officers to inspect the interior of slum properties with the consent of the owner/occupier. Right now they can only inspect the exterior of these properties.

Will give the city another tool to combat urban blight by inspecting the interiors of slum properties.

Do we really need more inspections?

Adams and Jefferson doesn't feel strongly either way about this proposition but will probably vote NO

Question 1 – Public Safety Bonds, Question 2 – Street Bonds
Question 1 will authorize the City of Mesa to issue $58,300,000 in general obligation municipal bonds to pay for improvements to the city fire and police department in infrastructure, personnel and equipment. Question 2 will allow the City of Mesa to issue $110,900,000 in general obligation municipal bonds to pay for improvements to the city’s streets, highways, and traffic control systems. Both bonds are to be paid for over 25 years and are secured by a secondary property tax on all taxable properties in the city.

Improved public safety
Improved roads

More borrowing for the city
Secondary property tax will be triggered by these bonds.

We have a new mayor and city council that have worked hard to trim the fat in our budget. These bonds are actually half of what the city departments originally proposed to the city council. I hate to borrow more, especially when it will trigger the property tax, but we get the city we pay for. I would like a better city than the one we live in now.

Adams and Jefferson says: VOTE YES on QUESTIONS 1 and 2

Again, you check out all of Adams and Jefferson's recommendations here.

Cuts for Mesa

The City of Mesa, and even the Police Department have announced there is going to be an unprecedented amount of cuts due to the economic slowdown. As Le Templar points out, this is going to be a true test of Mayor Scott Smith and his ability to solve problems. The City of Phoenix is looking like they may have to make 20% cuts across the board. It will be interesting to see what Mesa is able to do with even less money and a budget that is driven largely by sales tax revenues.

Clearly, we need to remain focused on the key services such as police and fire, and find ways not only to keep them adequately staffed, but to make sure that can still maintain public safety. Items like the smaller emergency response vehicles instead of fire trucks is the creative type of thinking that we finally saw at the end of the last council that I hope will transfer to the new one.

It will also be interesting to see how the government will look after the cuts. Even though it is early, this could become one of Smith's largest benchmarks of his time as mayor. It may also be the determining factor on if he becomes a one term mayor or one hailed as pointing Mesa in the right direction.

A smaller and more efficient Government is not a bad thing, and just like people are having to make sacrifices in their regular lives, it is realistic that the City would have to do the same. Certainly Smith's "nothing is sacred" approach that he preached during his campaign is going to ruffle a few feathers, but its also the type of method that is most likely to bring about real change.

Maricopa County Special Healthcare District Candidate Rob Carey Nabs Big Endorsements

Well, I have to admit, there is a lot of interest in the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District races. Since I have started writing about them, I have seen web traffic up over 20% in the past week. Since it appears to be something that people are interested in, and its not getting a lot of coverage in the papers, I am going to continue to cover what comes my direction in the realm of news regarding the District and its representation for Mesa. In this case, Candidate Rob Carey has announced several big endorsements today. Here is the release that he issued:

Rob Carey for Healthcare District Announces Large Bipartisan Slate of Endorsements
Attorney General Terry Goddard joins Former Attorney General Grant Woods, Supervisor Don Stapley, Congressman Harry Mitchell, and others in Supporting Rob Carey

District 2 - Former Chief Assistant Attorney General Rob Carey proudly announced the support of large bipartisan group of national, state, and local leaders including: Attorney General Terry Goddard, Former Attorney General Grant Woods, Supervisor Don Stapley, Congressman Harry Mitchell, and others in his bid for Maricopa County Special Healthcare District today.

“I am honored to have the support of these individuals who have long history of serving the community,” said Rob Carey, “I hope to work with them on many of the issues facing the healthcare district and I am proud to have them support my efforts to set a fiscally responsible course while maintaining our healthcare safety net.”

From 1990 to 1996, as Arizona's Chief Deputy Attorney General, Carey oversaw all major legal, policy, legislative, and political issues for the Arizona attorney general's office. He also obtained a $4 billion divestiture, a landmark $165 million antitrust settlement, and won numerous consumer and tort cases. Carey drafted and spearheaded passage of Arizona's law requiring the DNA testing of all sex offenders and instituted a penalty requiring that criminals pay the cost of victims' rights.

Attorney General Terry Goddard said, “From fighting pharmaceutical over-pricing to battling tobacco companies, Rob Carey's healthcare and legal experience would be a great addition to the Maricopa County Special Healthcare district.”

“Rob Carey served as my Chief Deputy Attorney General. He is the only candidate with a wide variety of budget, legal, and political experience that will directly benefit MIHS and the voters of Maricopa County by cutting costs and ensuring public health,” said Former Attorney General Grant Woods.

Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley represents District 2, which shares the same boundaries as the district that Carey hopes to represent. Stapley said, “Rob understands the issues the county healthcare district faces and has the vision and experience that will be vital in setting a course for fiscal responsibility and proper management of public funds for the largest teaching hospital in Arizona.”

U.S. Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, whose Congressional District represents a large portion of the same area in the East Valley, agrees. "Rob Carey understands that the health care 'safety net' is at a critical point," said Mitchell. "He'll work to ensure its long-term viability as a key health care provider in Maricopa County."

Carey also announced the following endorsements:

Former Mayor Paul Johnson
Former Mayor Sam Campana
Tempe Councilmember Ben Arredondo
Former ADHS Director Sue Gerard

Someone pointed out to me that Greg Patterson's campaign signs have his on them. I looked around on his site, and it doesn't appear that he has a specialized page for the race, but if he does, or has any other news to share, I'll be more than happy to share it here. Same goes for Stratton, although the most I can find about him is his Arizona Republic Questionnaire and the fact that he is considered an expert witness in Orthopedic Surgery.

District 18 Update

The Tribune did a great article laying out the four candidates vying for the two house seats in District 18. It gives helpful insight into their economic views, and gives time to Independent Joe Brown who has not received as much attention because he isn't an R or a D.

Secondly, Russell Pearce got a cheer from the Tribune for his stance on blocking a $1 billion construction package for the universities in this current $300 million budget shortfall.

Finally, the Republicans have fired another shot at the Dems this time attacking the LD 18 candidates on social issues. While not on the list of trouble districts as noted by Nathan Sproul, it appears that they are going to continue to make the differences known in this conservative district. Here is a release that came out from Sherry Pierce (who appears to be part of Mesa Republican women and Wife of Corportation Commissioner Gary Pierce) yesterday:

Nativio and Pursley Oppose Traditional Marriage
Ash, Court, and Pearce only legislative candidates in District 18 who stand for traditional family values

MESA - The voters of Legislative District 18 have a clear choice when it comes to supporting marriage between a man and a woman and traditional family values.
"Families are the foundation of our society," said Sherry Pierce, "It is up to our elected leaders to do everything that is possible to protect our nation's traditional family values. When it comes to these issues, the voters in District 18 have a clear choice."

In his Project Vote Smart questionnaire, State Senate Candidate Judah Nativio says that he believes that Arizona should recognize civil unions between same-sex couples and is undecided on if same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. He also believes that abortions should always be legal.

His running mate, State House Candidate Tammie Pursley, is a supporter of Arizona Together who is advocating for the defeat of Proposition 102. She is joined by Democratic Legislators and Planned Parenthood Arizona in supporting this effort.
On the other hand, Republicans Cecil Ash, Steve Court, and Russell Pearce have all made clear their support for traditional marriage including Proposition 102 on the November ballot. All three candidates support traditional family values and are pro-life.

"On November 4th we have an opportunity to ensure that Mesa remains family friendly at our State Legislature," explained Pierce. "Ash, Court, and Pearce value the rights of unborn children and believe in the sanctity of a marriage between a man and a woman. With issues as critical as these, we need representatives who will defend families and realize the importance they are to our society."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tolman Responds to Nativio

This in from Thoughts on Mesa. As we reported last week, Nativio responded to Tolman's statements about his fiscal responsibility. Here is what Tolman had to say back:

"Mr. Nativio is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he will say one thing to get elected and once in office he will do another.

He says that he doesn’t support new taxes but he supports the Governor’s failed TIME initiative that would have raised sales tax by 18% on those who can least afford it.

In his own words Judah wants to raise taxes on individuals making over $75,000 and reduce the tax on those making less. This sounds like socialism through the redistribution of wealth.

Somebody chooses to work hard, apply themselves and provide for their family and Judah wants to penalize them by take food from one family and giving it to another. What motivation is there in working hard if you are going to take from me to give to another? It would be better for the hard worker to quite working and go on welfare.

It is interest to note that Judah attempts to put the blame on Russell Pearce for the Governor’s failed budget policies. It is the Governor’s failed policies that have gotten this state in financial straights not Russell Pearce. If Russell Pearce had been in charge, this state wouldn’t be facing a 2 billion dollar budget shortfall.

Who do you want watching over the state in these troubled times, a wet behind the ear’s 30 year old Judah with no experience and understanding of the budget. Or would you rather have an experienced Russell Pearce who knows where the money is. This is no time for on the job training Judah.

And by the way Kevin Gibbon’s did it to himself with his associations."

Questions 1 and 2 and the economy

Also on November's ballot is Questions 1 and 2 about public safety and roads. This recent Tribune article talks alot about the financial ins and outs of the bonds as well as the fact that the Mayor and Council made some major cuts in response to the current economic downturn.

As I have talked to people, its been clear to me that there is less opposition to this bond campaign over the property tax from two years ago. When I ask people why they are more willing to support, they generally fall into one of a couple of categories:

1. They see the need that is there. They aren't talking about swimming pools and art centers, they are talking about police and fire stations, equipment, and streets. People want to know that the emergency respondents can get there when there is a problem and they don't want to drive on streets with potholes. For that, they are willing to pay a little.

2. They have a lot more trust in the council now. A lot of people I talked to thought of the property tax from two years ago as a blank check. They see the bonds as a small menu of items that they get to approve line by line. They know what they are getting and they trust this new mayor and council to do their job.

3. The last one is the most interesting. And I don't really know how to phrase it, but there is for lack of a better term, more "optimism." People are starting to see Mesa as a place that is turning around and people are more willing to be involved. I think that the new Mayor and Council have been able to instill this type of hope, and they more they back their reduced bond issue, I think the greater likelihood it has to pass.

Why its good to know your neighbors

A guy broke into a family's home, lived in it for a week, did drugs and stole a bunch of stuff. The issue was not reported unti a neighbor noticed a door open. This just goes to show the importance of knowing your neighbors and having people check up on your house while you are gone. I admit, I don't know my neighbors as well as I would like, but I try to make sure to talk to them occassionally and get someone to check in on the house once in awhile when I am gone.

Of course, like some of the commenters have said, an alarm would help in this situation, but there is nothing better to reduce crime than a community working together to look out for the neighborhood. It doesn't even need to be anything formal as neighborhood watch, but when a long haired dude is going in and out of your neighbor's house with flat screen tvs, perhaps its time to talk to the police.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More on Maricopa County Special Healthcare District

Wouldn't you know it? There is a lot more interest in the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District than I originally anticipated. In fact, the article in the Tribune today was quite interesting.

It looks like there is even more to the different sides trying to battle for control of the district. From the article, you can add Rex Altree to the Harlan Stratton/Collette Rosatti crowd being endorsed by the Pachyderms and running as the conservative team.

It looks like you can count Bruno, Carey, and Gerard as more of the moderate team. It looks like Patterson is somewhere in the middle between the two. All in all, you have to be impressed with the resumes of everyone involved in the race. They truly want to make a difference if they are willing to lend their expertise

Out of the three races, it looks to me like the Stratton, Carey, and Patterson race is going to be the most interesting. The other two are one on one affairs where the divisions will be fairly clear. The District 2 race offers three alternatives and there is no telling how this broader turnout presidential cycle will impact this lower election. However, it looks like Stratton must see Carey as the biggest rival since he take a direct shot at him in the article.

In their own words: Tammie Pursley

We have asked each of the legislative candidates to submit their own editorial to be posted on Mesa Issues. Over the next few weeks, as people reply, we will post their responses. Here is the next in our new series "In their own words" with Legislative District 18 House Candidate Tammie Pursley:

Thank you for this opportunity to clarify my priorities with Mesa Issues readers. Hello my name is Tammie Pursley and I am running for Arizona House of Representatives, District 18. Like you I have been in shock and awe over the past few weeks as I have seen the fallout of eight years of irresponsible deregulation, predatory lending practices run amuck , and legislators who have stepped aside and allowed it all to occur. If elected I would stand up for the people, as others should have before me. When I see something that is hurting the families of Arizona I will defend them and shed light on the problem while others wait and see what happens. As a member of the Mesa Police Advisory Board I have worked with the community and the police department to find solutions to problems with crime that Northwest Mesa faces. That is the type of leader I am and will continue to be.

Throughout this campaign I have been adamant about not raising taxes, especially in these difficult economic times. As I have shared with many of you while walking door-to-door in our neighborhoods. My plan is a comprehensive review of tax expenditures that curtails wasteful spending, finding more efficient systems to provide government services, taking those savings and reinvesting them in programs that benefit the citizens of Arizona not special interests which take the money and run. I believe in working as a bi-partisan team putting the needs of Arizona citizens first. I believe in building infrastructure to create the opportunities needed for a sustainable Arizona, both fiscally and environmentally, with a higher quality of life for all. This includes a health care system that serves the people, people should not have to see a loved one in pain as I have and have to contemplate whether they can afford the deductible to take them to the hospital. In addition, I believe that government has no place in taking away personal God given freedoms. Where I am a Christian and am guided by those beliefs I am able to take a more open view of the needs of my constituents to ensure that their voices are being heard and addressed not my personal preferences. It is for those reasons that I believe I am the right choice to truly represent the diversity of District 18 and would respectfully ask for your vote on November 4th. Thank you.

Nativio Responds

Judah Nativio has responded to Matt Tolman's blast earlier this week about fiscal responsibility. Here is his response:

"There he goes again," Judah said, "Matt Tollman is out telling more half truths and protecting his friend, Russell Pearce, who is chairman of the appropriations committee and is one we can point fingers at for allowing this budget crisis to spiral out of control,"

Judah continues, "They did it to his primary opponent and now to his general opponent, they must be scared that their bad fiscal policy has finally caught up with them. Character bashing instead of solution providing, politics as usual."

"Matt's remark's did not mention that I am in favor of lowering the sales tax and the corporate tax. Nor did mention the raise I spoke of on income taxes is on incomes over $75,000. Incomes under $75,000 would have a tax decrease. The TIME initiative or Mr. Pearce's 1/2 cent increase would have provided much needed infrastructure, jobs and would have helped attract more business to Arizona. It is time we wake up and realize what direction we want to head in and stop voting purely on party affiliation. Do not fall for their tactics."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

District 18 news

As I mentioned yesterday, we have offered each of the candidates an opportunity to submit an opinion as part of our new "In Their Own Words" which kicked off Yesterday with Steve Court. I have received interest from Nativio, Pearce and Ash as well. Still no word back from Pursley.

Also, I received the following release from District 18 Republican Party Chairman Matt Tolman:

Nativio, Pursley Wrong Picks for Fiscal Responsibility
Democrat House and Senate Candidates for Legislative District 18 favor tax increases and increased spending

MESA - The Arizona State budget already faces a $350 million shortfall in the current fiscal year. It is predicted that the budget will be between $500 million to $1 billion short by the end of this year with a deficit of $2 Billion for next.

“In these tough economic times, tax increases and increased spending are not the answer,” said Matt Tolman, District 18 Republican Party Chairman, “We must support candidates who are going to represent real fiscal responsibility in the legislature.”

Democrat Senate Candidate Judah Nativio is a strong proponent of the Governor’s failed TIME initiative which would have raised sales taxes by 18%. According to his Project Vote Smart survey, he is also in favor of increasing the gasoline tax and the income tax.

Democrat House Candidate Tammy Pursley is supported by the same people that pushed through the Governor’s fiscally irresponsible budget and failed state ballot initiatives. She was also associated with ACORN, the group that was looking for handouts in the government bailout bill.

The most recent State Budget that was approved by every Democrat while opposed by almost every Republican, includes hundreds of photo radar cameras, fund sweeps, and uses the Arizona Lottery to fund a billion dollars in construction at State Universities.

“Quite simply, District 18 cannot afford Nativio and Pursley. We need people to fight the Governor and her budget tricks and financing gimmicks,” said Tolman “Not people who are going to work hand in hand with her to make the $2 billion budget shortfall we face even greater.”

Tolman continued, “There are three fiscally responsible candidates running to represent District 18. Russell Pearce, running for the Senate seat, has served as Appropriations Chairman and is a winner of numerous taxpayer awards. Cecil Ash and Steve Court have professional small business experience and are looking to apply their skills as representatives in the House.”

Each of the three Republican candidates brings a unique skill set to the delegation. Rep. Russell Pearce has a proved track record of leadership when dealing with budget issues. Cecil Ash has worked as a practicing attorney and business owner and Steve Court worked for over 20 years in accounting and finance in addition to owning a family business.

“The state must live within its means. Just like a family, the state should not be spending more than it’s taking in,” said Tolman, “There should be no new entitlement programs. Existing programs and services should be reviewed to determine whether they continue to be necessary. This is the kind of leadership we can count on from Ash, Court, and Pearce.”

Tolman concluded, “As our District 18 Representatives, we can trust Ash, Court, and Pearce’s commitment to protect your hard earned tax dollars and fight against the reckless spending and fiscal irresponsibility that have to often become commonplace at the legislature.”

With the current state of the economy, the bailout news, and the market fluctuations, this is certainly a good time to question who is best on fiscal responsibility. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

Rhodes Swimming Pool Drama

All is well that ends well is probably the lesson that will be taken away from last night's drama surrounding the surfing amenity at the Rhodes Junior High Pool. Its taken the new Mesa City Council quite a bit of time to let a little district in-fighting finally happen. Its not all that surprising that an amenity at a community pool would be what comes under fire - especially since it was approved by the old council.

Interestingly, it was enough of an issue that everyone wanted to chime in. It wouldn't be surprised if there are a couple of feathers ruffled after this ordeal, but in the long run, I hope that Mesa is able to suffer past some of the parochial issues that plague other cities. In the end, it looks like Mayor Smith was able to explain the need to respect the process without allowing this type of spending to continue into the future.

It looks like the issue was handled well by everyone who is involved. Let's hope that the residents near Rhodes Junior High Pool actually use this amenity so that people won't have to second guess their decisions.

Crime is down

Chief Gascon says that serious crime is down in Mesa. While the name invokes a lot of different ideas, and usually leads to some sort of immigration discussion, lets leave that aside for a moment and look at the numbers.

Serious crimes like homicide, rape, burglary, theft, larceny and auto theft are down. Robbery and aggravated assaults are up. According to the story:

"Overall crime is down 9.4 percent this year compared to last year. And arrests are up about 7 percent."

This is great news for Mesa to see some increased enforcement and reductions in crime. We are still facing our fair share of tragedies like the stabbings at Fiesta Mall, but hopefully this is a trend in the right direction. I think its still too early to tell if this current economic breakdown is going to have an effect on crime. Let's hope that Mesa can stay moving in the right direction.

Monday, October 6, 2008

In their own words: Steve Court

We have asked each of the legislative candidates to submit their own editorial to be posted on Mesa Issues. Over the next few weeks, as people reply, we will post their responses. Here is the first of our new series "In their own words" with Legislative District 18 House Candidate Steve Court:

Thank you to Mesa Issues for the opportunity to express my opinions on some of the important issues facing Arizona. As a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives I get asked to fill out scores of questionnaires on a wide variety of topics that are important to that particular group. Newspaper interviews tend to get edited down so much that my real opinions and views don’t come through clearly.

Let me start off by saying that I am a conservative Republican with strong family values and see myself as especially fiscally conservative. In fact it is my fiscal views and the Arizona budget crisis that drew me into this race.

The Arizona Budget:
Last year the Governor and legislature had two difficult budgets to balance. For fiscal year 2008 they used up the rainy day fund (a legitimate use of the fund), they swept accounts that had been set up for specific purposes ( not a legitimate practice), they pushed some spending into the next fiscal year (postpones the pain one more year).
For fiscal year 2009 the easy gimmicks were used up in the 2008 budget, and since Arizona’s constitution demands a balanced budget it looked like we would finally have some spending cuts. But no, instead we end up with $2 BILLION in debt (Bonding). Since when is going into debt part of balancing the budget? I do not believe that this practice of bonding is in keeping with the intentions of the writers of the state constitution. Now just 3 months into the new fiscal year we are close to $300 Million behind in tax revenue which could easily mean more that $1 Billion more that needs to be found to balance the budget. Hopefully not with more debt, but with some genuine spending cuts, and hopefully done in special session so that there is time to have some real effect on the 2009 budget.
One of the issues that faces the state in reducing spending is voter mandated programs that cannot be cut by the legislature and in fact continue to increase even when revenues are down. These currently account for over 50% of the budget. This means that in order to balance the budget we can only consider one half of the programs. I do not believe that this was the intent of the voters. We need a special election to modify the voter mandated spending so that when revenues are down for two consecutive fiscal years, that all programs can be subject to reductions in spending. And when the economy improves, the voter mandates go back into effect.

The Arizona Economy:
Part of my platform has been a stated goal of working to attract a diverse group of companies to set up their businesses in Arizona. This would not only provide new jobs for Arizonans, but it would help to diversify our job base so that we are not so dependent on a construction economy. Anyone who has lived in Arizona long enough will remember several boom/bust economic cycles tied almost solely to construction ups and downs. A more diverse job base will help to smooth out the boom/bust cycles that Arizona goes through, and will therefore make the budget easier to manage. Part of being able to attract new businesses to Arizona is showing them that we have a properly educated workforce that is ready and willing to work. Which brings us to the third point, Education.

Arizona’s Education System:
Everyone talks about the importance of our children’s education, but are we ready and willing to do something? Much is made of the fact that Arizona ranks at the bottom of states in per pupil spending. In terms of performance in reading and math we rank in the bottom half, but not as bad as the spending per pupil would lead you to believe. Do we need to spend more? I don’t think so. The U.S. as a whole has increased per pupil spending by 240%, in inflation adjusted dollars, over the past 20 years and has seen no overall improvement in education scores. Even if we worked hard and made Arizona’s education system the best in the country, we would have a third rate system in terms of a global perspective. The U.S. ranks in the bottom half of industrialized nations and even lower than many developing nations in the quality of the education that our children are receiving. We need to scrap AIMS, it means nothing nationally and even less internationally. There are tests available that over 100 nations use currently, we need to adopt these to really see how our education system is working. We need to set our graduation standards higher. We need to recruit our teachers from among the best and brightest, and be willing to pay them competitive wages. We need earlier childhood education. We need longer school days. We need to prepare our students to compete on a global scale. Our current system won’t work. We need to be willing to look at and try a new system. The National Center on Education and the Economy is a great place for us to look to for ideas that will let us change our education system in a way that will allow our students to be globally competitive, without spending more.

I look forward to working to make Arizona a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family.

Steve Court

Interest in the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District?

I admit, I know very little about the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District except for the fact that they are elected, they don't get paid, and they direct the Maricopa Integrated Health System which is basically the county health system which cares for any and everybody.

Mesa is currently represented by Charlie Gail Hendrix who is not seeking re-election. However, there are three candidates who are running to replace Hendrix on the board. They only reason I figured it out is that I started seeing signs popping up all over town.

One candidate is fellow blogger Greg Patterson (his website is the famous Espresso Pundit), another is former deputy AG Rob Carey (who announced the launch of his website), and the third candidate is Harlan Stratton.

This is where some of the drama sets it. Interestingly, the lesser-known Stratton appears to have gotten an endorsement from the PAChyderm Coalition and he may also be backed by the Maricopa County Republican Party. Three observations:

First, its curious how he received this support over the also conservative Patterson. You'd think with Patterson consistently writing and preaching the conservative standards, he would have had a shot. He is also clearly a more known commidity having served in the House.

Second, in this more moderate General Election, its unclear if this type of endorsement will even be all that helpful. Plus, I am sure that some will question Stratton's efforts to team up with the controversial Collette Rosatti who has experience being too conservative in a bigger turnout election.

Finally, you have to hand it to Rob Carey for not taking the snub lying down. Someone forwarded me a copy of the email he sent last week, which is pretty great:

"Dear Officers of the Maricopa County Republican Party:

I found out last night that you endorsed another candidate in the upcoming election--I can't recall his name, as he has never done anything in Arizona. You selected him without ever talking to me (and likely the other candidate) or reviewing the issues. I have been an Arizona Republican since I could vote and have worked on the campaigns of many elected officials in city, county, state and federal campaigns. I have contributed time and money to them. I have responded every time I have been asked for help. Instead of me (or another qualified candidate--Greg Patterson--who, although I don't know him, has from what I can tell served Arizona honorably as a Republican and demonstrated competence in the issues), you chose a candidate who has been in Arizona for two years and whose grasp of the issues is, to be charitable, weak. He doesn't know if a new hospital is needed; doesn't have an opinion on whether the district should partner with the University of Arizona; is undecided on the most critical funding issue relating to the district; and, shockingly, doesn't believe there are any healthcare, management or other important issues that have been overlooked in the public healthcare system. (see I am struggling to understand why you would look past two long-time residents, both of whom, though they have different views of the needs of the district, have demonstrated some grasp of the issues, and instead endorse a newcomer with seemingly little knowledge of the issues. If your organization is to have any legitimacy, you should strive to be more open and professional in your endorsement process. Your selection was not based on facts or substance, or even what is best for the party or the state; rather, it seems to have been based on some personal agenda that has no place in your organization. This is just a low-profile race, so impact is minimal, but if this is the way you choose to operate as a group, it will most assuredly hurt your efforts to be successful in the long run.

Robert B. Carey"

Since the legislative races haven't been all that interesting so far, perhaps this will be a fun one to follow.

Tribune's march towards extinction

The East Valley Tribune has announced that they are cutting back to 4 days a week and are laying off 142 people which represents about 40% of their staff. They are moving to free distribution and pulling out of the Scottsdale and Tempe Markets. So basically, they are now sort of a large version of those driveway throwers like the East Mesa Independent.

Also, a lot of names have been thrown about as to who has been let go. Several of the names that have been sent my direction are fairly shocking including a lot of folks who are well-read throughout the community. I am still trying to confirm, but the fact is they are probably too experienced (expensive) to stay on staff, and will likely be replaced with some cub reporter fresh out of school.

They will still do news 7 days a week online. The quality of what we are going to get is certainly going to suffer. If they are going to move to an online format, they should certainly embrace it and make some changes to their site to ease the transition.

First, they need to clean the site up. They have all sorts of different boxes and tables that are all different sizes and shapes and work differently. I would bet they each take a different kind of feed and programming to display.

Second, pick a couple of ad sizes and go with them. All the different size ads and placements look like we are reading a patchwork quilt. And while we're at it, make sure you have someone looking over the ads for standards. I have seen a ton of blurry and hairly looking ads that look like they we're built in 1995.

Third, fix your comment sections. They take forever to load, they often show up in funky ways and clearly only a few people know how to use them correctly because its always the same four pissed off people commenting on everything.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Final Tweaks to Proving Grounds Plan

The Council is considering the final changes to the plans for the proving grounds. One of the things that I noticed within the story is that the developer is going to have to conduct an economic analysis on each section as it is developed. This should help us get benchmarks along the way and understand what we can expect in the short term as well as in the long term.

This is the first that I have heard that the project is going to take 30 to 40 years to complete. Although its not that surprising since it takes time for things to build up and people to move here, things usually happen so quickly in Arizona, sometimes its hard to think about a long term plan. After all, think about how different things were in the Valley 20 years ago.

Will Mesa avoid the credit crunch?

Mesa is saying that they will be able to avoid the credit crunch that is currently impacting the economy. While other cities across the nation are having a problem securing the credit they need to do some of their projects, Mesa has not had that problem - at least so far.

Not only that, but paying off the stadium early allowed them to avoid some massive payments on the stadium which should free up some long term funds. One of the more interesting things about the article is the comment section below. Clearly, there has been a shift among people on their ability to trust the council and their decisions. In fact, some people are just outright saying such.

I am still unsure if this goodwill will help pass the bonds, but it certainly gives them a better chance. I have seen that the fact that the bonds were cut it half is going to be touted, which I think is a good message especially when other people are having to tighten their belts. They are also making the case, with the help of the Republic, that the bonds are really only for their greatest needs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Republic Endorse Nativio, Ash, and Court

Well, the Arizona Republic has shown that while they are willing defend Russell Pearce, there is still no way that they will endorse him. The Republic has come out in favor of Judah Nativio for State Senate, and Cecil Ash and Steve Court for State House.

On the Senate endorsement, they spent most of their time talking of the ills of Pearce and not very much time on the pros of Nativio. I hope that Nativio sees what the "Not-Pearce" platform reaps and takes some time to establish himself as his own candidate. Either way, the endorsement should be a good pick up in this more moderate election.

Ash and Court get the nod over Pursley talking about their moderate takes on immigration and coming out against Pursley for her limitations on school choice. There is a great liklihood that the Dems will run together and the Republicans will do the same. It will be interested to see how they handle the split endorsement.

Mesa Bond Campaign Launches Website

The "Yes on 1 and 2 campaign" who are the supporters of the Mesa bonds sent out a release yesterday touting the launch of their new website The site includes some pretty detailed information about the bond campaign including a very cool interactive map where you can click on and off the districts to see what you are getting.

Now that the Pros have mounted a campaign, it will be interesting to see if people start to come out against the bonds. Clearly, the economic downturn is not doing anyone any favors, either it will make people realize even more that they need the most essential services, or they will close up their pocketbook and not spend another dime. I think the pro campaign is hoping for more of the former and less of the latter.