Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wilson and Walters announced Mesa Man and Woman of the Year

No matter how large Mesa grows, one of the time honored traditions that helps this city maintain some of its small town roots is the annual announcement of a Mesa Man and Woman of the Year. This year Dr. Ralph V. Wilson and former Vice-Mayor Claudia Walters will receive the honors.

Wilson is a long-time surgeon that served Mesa and throughout the world. Walters is a longtime community and education public servant who served on the Mesa City Council for 8 years. Take the time to read more about their accomplishments from the article and learn more about the Man and Woman of the year program from their website.

More on Fiesta District fire station

The discussion continues on the Fiesta District fire station. It turns out that they originally started with 10 locations for this station before bringing it down to two. The owner of the NW corner of Extension and Grove wants above appraisal, while the owner of the Fiesta site is willing to go for less.

It does have many of the desired specifications including access to two roadways (preferable), visibility to the community, and contributing to the revitalization of surrounding area. However, they were looking for 5-7 acres, and this site is a little over 9 acres. The question remains, what are they going to do with the rest of the space?

On December 12, they held a public forum to get some feedback. Someone sent us the feedback summary, which we will share:

1. As a taxpayer, this is the time to purchase property. As a resident in the community, I think a more high profile location would be a help in deterring crime and revitalize an area. Perfect. Good job! It’s good when the government gets something right. (Send the $4 million stimulus money back.)

2. Mr. Kavanaugh and council need to make a better effort to get the corners of the strip mall at Southern and Alma School to sell. This is a prime location.

3. Sounds like a good location as a barrier to box in the riff-raff along Emerald Road. But it is expensive!

4. Like the new site – increased visibility at reasonable cost and expansion potential.

5. Yes; quick, fast, and in a hurry.

6. I support the plan.

7. As a residence of Dobson Ranch, I strongly support the proposed site. Build it!

8. I might have hoped that the City - or anyone - might do something – anything – with the property at Southern and Alma School. As a close second, the Longmore and Southern property seems an excellent choice. Let’s do it.

9. Good location choice – use of existing land in an area that needs redevelopment support. Support south of freeway needs to continue at appropriate levels.

10. Understanding better about the timing of purchasing property at lower prices than before, and knowing that patrolling in “Dobson Ranch” won’t diminish, I personally feel better about the location.

11. Great idea. Eleven in our cul-de-sac want it here.

12. Yes! For this site – sounds good

13. City Engineer did a great job presenting the project!

14. Good idea and great location.

15. I fully support this project for the area. I think it would help to fill some empty retail square footage with a new use, which will help the area considerably.

16. I think this is a great site. It takes care of two very important issues. It will renovate the vacant strip mall and keep the police station in the Fiesta District. I am in favor of a more visitor friendly police station. Thank you for your presentation and all of your hard work.

17. Good presentation. Looks like a good choice. Should incorporate community room. Should go through design review process.

18. I fully support the plan to move the Dobson Substation to the Longmore location. Let’s do it!

Despite some concerns about cost, not surprisingly, there appears to be a high level support from the surrounding area. The key appears to be the element of redevelopment and the impact that it will have.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Are you ready for Twitter Friday @MesaIssues?

We know it has been a quiet week at Mesa Issues, but you know how the Holiday Season gets. However, we always try to make time for twitter friday. Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, and all things Mesa even in a quiet week.

Join the conversation! Let us know what you're thinking. Look for us at our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Jobs for Mesa

A new steel plant has opened in Mesa, and with it comes another 145 new jobs. In fact, 50 more jobs will open in April when their fabrication plan comes online. Mayor Smith posted several pictures from the groundbreaking on his twitter yesterday.

At this point all new jobs are good jobs, but it is nice to note that these jobs are "green" since the primary function of this plant is to convert scrap metal into rebar. As they said, this is yet another piece of the puzzle for developing the Gateway area and hopefully it can attract other manufacturing to the area.

Mesa and Gilbert working together

After years of being ruled by Mayors who didn't focus on anything beyond the walls of their respective cities, the Mesa and Gilbert Councils are meeting to talk about how they can work together on joint interests such as ASU Poly, Gateway, and Power Road. What a concept!

Credit goes to Mayor Smith and Mayor Lewis for putting aside any of the issues of the past and deciding that it would be better to work together on some of these regionally significant projects instead of working against each one another. Returning to a more Statesmanlike approach to economic development and policy is a breath of fresh air for both cities and something that other people from across the state could learn from.

There are a lot of exciting things going on in both Mesa and Gilbert, and as we have said before, we would be more than willing to help get a "Gilbert Issues" effort off the ground, but it would have to be a collaborative effort.

Fiesta District News

Some interesting news for the Fiesta District. First, ASU students used the area as a "real life" project for a school planning exercise. Their idea was a pedestrian friendly paseo concept with an attraction like the Riverwalk in San Antonio. We have received similar free advice before, now the question is if anything can be done about it.

One thing that may be in the works is locating a new Fire station within the district. Two councilmembers are at odds over a plan for Mesa to purchase the shopping center at Southern and Longmore that once housed the Bed Bath and Beyond, Circuit City and others. Kavanaugh is advocating for the Fiesta location while Finter wants the Council to consider locating the station at Powell Junior High whose future is uncertain.

The Fiesta site is more centrally located and on two larger roads, but the question is, what would the city do with the rest of the land? Would Mesa hold on to it, or would they try to sell the rest of it off? Is the city getting a good price in this current real estate climate? If they do end up choosing that location, they should do what they can to show how they have reduced costs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

If you can believe it, this is our 900th post. Interestingly enough, it just so happens to be about our regular Twitter Friday routine. Talk about bringing blogging and twitter technology together! Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, and all things Mesa. We'll also feature a Post of the Month recap from November as well. Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues.

Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

433 Miles from Naples

Keep the Cubs has a very keen observation about the Cubs' latest visit to Florida. The Ricketts family finally met with the Governor of Florida, but they had to fly 433 miles from Naples to do so. Maybe they really did want to feel what it would be like for the Cubbies to train in Florida.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, all of the Spring Training teams are in the valley and are no more than about an hour away. Can Florida claim that? No.

As we mentioned yesterday, everything in the Cubs video could be seen in less time than it would take for the Cubs to travel from one stadium to the next. Is there any question why so many Cubs players and fans have retired in Arizona over the years? Better weather, more convenience, and better golf. Add in the fact that we have BOTH palm trees and cactus, Mesa wins big time. If they really want the beach, perhaps they should call up the guys at Waveyard and offer to lend a hand.

Guerrero Elementary spared - others remain in the balance

The major headline from last night's community meeting is that Guerrero Elementary will not be closing afterall. However, Frost, Alma, Powell, and Hendrix (all west Mesa schools), are still facing closure to be converted into other types of educational facilities.

It looks as if Frost and Hendrix will likely be part of the International Baccalaureate program. As discussed before, Alma Elementary looks to be converted into a Franklin School. This leaves only Powell Junior High facing a major change in its purpose. The new plan for Powell is to offer community programs, credit-recovery programs, community healthcare and even community college programs. No word yet which school local junior high students would be transferred to.

As we have mentioned before, the district will face the challenge of the "local school" mentality. Redrawing boundaries may leave some students miles away from their closest school that offers the programs that they want. This will work for the students with parents that can drive them to school, but what about the students that have walked or taken the bus in the past? MPS just saved millions with their revised bus routes and schedules, but no word on how the school restrutcturing would change these costs.

In the end, however, it is important to remember that MPS appears to be doing everything they can to remain competitive in offering quality education in the face of a $60 million financial shortfall. These changes have the potential to create long term education improvements for our students and make them even more competitive in the workplace. However, these changes are not without their price, and some parents are going to be resistent to change.

Everyone should remember that they have a voice in this process and they can make comments at www2.mpsaz.org/future.

Paz De Cristo still feeding the homeless

Back in August, we talked about Paz De Cristo facing trouble because St. Timothy's Catholic Church pulled their funding. Remarkably, they are still hanging on, feeding the homeless despite their financial struggles.

Even with less money, the shelter is expecting to serve 78,000 evening meals this year, up 6,500 meals from a year ago. They have been blessed to continue to receive donations and support from the community, although they have made up less than half of their financial shortfall.

It is also important to note that despite lowering their funding, St. Timothy's Church owns the buildings and the vehicles which they rent for only a small fee. The church remains a major force in keeping the center open, not only with their generosity, but with their volunteers.

As we have said before, the economy isn't making it easy for anyone right now, but if you are reading this post, it's more than likely, you are doing better than the people who need Paz de Cristo. So, if you want to help, especially during this holiday season, you can click here to donate to the shelter, or contact them for more information.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reports welcome from MPS community meeting

Sorry for the late notice, but the MPS community meeting on the potential changes, including closing five schools is tonight. If you are going to the event, please share a report of how you think it went and your overall thoughts from the scene. These are the type of events that often tend to be over or underexaggerated depending on the reporter.

Mesa's Video Presentation to the Cubs

Keep the Cubs has been doing a great job staying on top of all the Cubs related issues. Earlier today, they posted a link to the video from Mesa, which turned out to be the promo video they used during their reception with the new ownership. Here it is:

Very cool. It does a great job of talking about not only Mesa's character, but the features of the entire valley as well as the state. One thing to note is that pretty much everything shown in that picture could be seen in significantly less time than it would take to drive from one ballpark to another in Florida.

Also, in case you were wondering, sponsors, not taxpayers are footing the bill for the reception last month.

Monday, November 30, 2009

LD 19 Musical Chairs

As it gets closer to election season, we'll be doing more of a legislative breakdown of the races, and what to expect. However, there is a bit of breaking news from over the Thanksgiving weekend that we felt was important to share.

LD 19 Senator Chuck Gray has announced that he will not seek another term in the Arizona State Senate. Following Gray's announcement, Representative Rich Crandall announced that he is exploring a run for the now open seat. This leaves an open seat in the house for LD 19, the other of which is currently filled by Speaker of the House Kirk Adams.

Chuck Gray moved from the House to the Senate in 2006 when Senator Marilyn Jarrett passed away. Gray won his 2008 Senate bid unopposed and was still eligible to serve another term under term limits. Those of you may also recall that Gray was one of the few opponents to the Gaylord project earlier this year. He is also been on the Senate leadership team this year that was in the middle of a lot of the budget controversy. He says that he will return to politics, it will be interesting to see what he pursues.

There is a lot of speculation on who will run for the open House seat and if anyone is going to step forward and challenge Crandall. Two names that have come up several times are former City Councilmember Rex Griswold and the owner of Sonoran Alliance who appears to be considering.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Quiet week here at Mesa Issues, but we wanted to take a moment to wish Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Enjoy the time with your family and take some time to be thankful for the many blessings in your life. Even in these tough times, we still have so much to be thankful for.

If you are planning a lot of shopping over the weekend, remember to shop Mesa and help the sales tax numbers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mayor slams legislative dysfunction - immediately validated

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith is in Washington DC at a national League of Cities conference. During a panel, he criticized the Arizona Legislature, stating that "We're having a contest with California to see which state government is the most dysfunctional." The off-hand joke proved, almost immediately, to be true.

Just hours after his statement, his position was validated as the latest legislative budget agreement stalled in the Arizona Senate falling one vote short of passage. You'll recall, that the budget talks stalled earlier this year after the budget was held hostage in the Senate by a few votes.

Senator Vershoor, who represents a part of Mesa and Gilbert, decided not to show up, not because of the nearly $300 million in proposed cuts, but because of "other policy shifts the Legislature was making in its special session."

In the end, Mayor Smith is right. Our legislative system is now so disfunctional, that even when everyone agrees that cuts need to be made, one or two legislators can hold the entire system hostage for their own interests. Months ago, we asked the legislature to follow Mesa's lead and offer a blend of cuts and the opportunity to raise revenue to fix the problem.

Obviously, that didn't happen, and now cuts are the only thing on the menu. However, these cuts are now being held hostage because of other issues. How does the problem get fixed? These cuts are difficult, but it is clear that they are necessary. Now, the question remains, can the legislature put aside their partisan nature and their idealogy to do what is right, or do they allow the state to continue to flounder.

Mesa has blazed a path directed towards recovery. It would be wise for the state to do the same.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flashing lights - what do you think?

Mesa is going in with the school districts to place flashing lights in several school zones. The total cost to the city is $92,000 to place the lights at 6 Mesa district and 2 Gilbert district schools. The city has found that these measures reduce speeds near schools by at least 5 mph. So, what are your thoughts on this?

On one hand, this is taxpayer money in a tough time. Yes, it's transportation sales tax dollars, but just like anything else, you have to weigh perception against the facts. Voters will look and see that city workers are being laid off, yet things like blinking lights are being installed. It's not that the lights are bad, but voters don't view certain money coming from specific pots.

On the other hand, how much is a life worth? If this slows down drivers to save a single life, isn't that worth $92,000? Many people would prefer the blinking lights to photo enforcement or speed bumps or any of the other alternatives.

Is this the right thing to do regardless of the timing? Is it a bureaucratic decision being made outside the realm of public perception? With so many distractions - cell phones, construction signs, campaign signs - are blinking lights enough?

Share your thoughts in the comments section or via twitter @mesaissues.

Aviation good and bad news

Mesa continues its rollercoaster of news and jobs - especially when it comes to aviation. First, a new type of helicopter produced by Boeing may bring more jobs and manufacturing to Falcon field. This would help diversify Mesa's current plant which is pretty much dependent on the Apache helicopter.

However, this good news is tempered by the fact that Gateway Airport is running a $1.8 million shortfall. Despite all of the good news coming out of Gateway and all of the exciting opportunities, vacancy is still 40% (they like to say 60% occupancy), which is down from a paltry 4% in 2007. What it comes down to is the loss of Boeing at Gateway, which appears to be unrelated to their work at Falcon.

These numbers are slightly deceiving, because they would recover 20% with the leasing of one hangar, but the reality is, that times are still tough, even for the places that are likely to be on the cutting edge of our recovery. It does show, that our economy, while likely to have reached the bottom, is going to have a rocky return to prosperity. In the meantime, we must celebrate our steps forward and hope they outweigh our setbacks along the way.

Friday, November 13, 2009

@MesaIssues and Twitter Friday

Everything sounds better with Friday after it. #FollowFriday, Football Friday, and even Mesa Issues and our Twitter Friday. Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, and all things Mesa.

Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MPS continue to ponder big changes

We mentioned last month that Mesa Public Schools was considering creative ideas for using their existing facilities and diversifying the education options. We are starting to hear even more of these big changes that are being pondered.

First, as reported last week, MPS is considering closing Powell Jr. High which is among the 8 proposals to be considered by the School Board. The others include returning freshman back to the High School campuses, closing Guererro and Alma elementaries or turn them into alternative types of schools, merging Hendrix and Frost into an K-8 advanced academy, and several other options.

One of the options, turning Alma Elementary into a Franklin Traditional school, received more detailed treatment in the Tribune. We understand that the curriculum is structured in a specific way, but still don't quite see how this differs from a regular school.

We have mentioned the challenge that this might provide to parents who simply want to send their kids to the schools closest to their homes, just as it has been done in the past. However, there another question to ponder that we wonder if it has been even asked. While trivial, what would be the new naming convention for these new school? Many of the schools are named after former Superintendents, public officials and other town leaders. Look at the history.

Guerrero is named after Pedro Guerrero, early pioneer and businessman. Pomeroy is named after Francis M. Pomeroy, Mesa Pioneer - there are still a lot of Pomeroy's in town. Alma School hasn't been on Alma School road in many years, but the namesake school always existed. Based on the naming of the other Franklin schools would it lose it's identity? Same goes for Hendrix and Smith which are both named after former Superintendents?

Maybe it is not that big of a deal, but it is something to keep in mind in a community steeped in history. The school system does need to make changes, but sometimes the little things like names may cause some of the biggest problems.

More on the visit from the Cubs last week

Sorry we missed this before, but the Arizona Republic ran an account of the Cubs event which sounded almost exactly the same as the eye-witness account that we received. All in all, it sounds like it was a very well done event.

Still no word on exactly how the project is going to work, but the article did hint that it may take months to iron out the details. Hopefully, in the meantime, the Ricketts family will remember the overwhelming amount of support they received out here to stay.

Keep the Cubs also found a very cool post from the Cubs Spring Training PA announcer debunking the arguments coming out of Florida on why the Cubs should move. He does a great job taking apart everything from the marquee team myth to the idea that Florida increases World Series chances. We highly recommend this article, especially for the Mesa diehard Cubs fans who want to be equipped to fight back.

MCC looking to connect through social networking

Here is an interesting article from an MCC student about MCC's efforts to connect via social networking. Although the program has an awkward name MCConnect (sounds like getting wi-fi at McDonalds), the research that it is trying to accomplish is very relevant and interesting.

It wasn't that long ago that students had to register for classes in person or via the telephone, now students can register for classes online and interact with their professor and get their class information via email. This type of information is likely to continue to decentralize as we progress. The articles says that students right now did not prefer texting as an option to receive information, but this may change over the next few years as students raised with texting start to attend college.

This is good news to see that MCC is looking to change to continue to provide high quality service to their students. This is also a nice change of pace to hear some good news from the community colleges, which in the past few months and years haven't always been the bearers of good news.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chavez opens "Campeones" in Mesa Today

Today is the opening day for "Campeones" the 30,000-square foot entertainment venue owned by boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez. The hype started earlier this week, with the venue being described as a cross between "ESPN Zone and Dave & Busters."

This is exciting news especially since this venue is unique compared to anything else in the Valley. Like Toby Keith's and Amazing Jakes, if people want to have this experience, they have to come exclusively to Mesa. This is, once again, another fine example of Mesa's ability to put together quality reuse projects for existing big boxes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

Sure, you know #FollowFriday, but do you know Twitter Friday? Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, all things Mesa.

Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mesa Public Schools override passes - Others fail countywide

Mesa voters approved the Mesa Public Schools bond override last night with a 58% to 42% margin, which for some reason AZCentral was calling "slim." This is a big deal, because as we mentioned before, these elections can no longer be taken for granted.

These school bond elections used to be an easy win, but not so much anymore. Across the county, several other school bonds and overrides failed. We don't have the details on how these cuts will impact the schools, but you can bet that there will be several districts that will have to go even leaner next year.

Taxpayers are having to make tough choices in their own lives, and they want to make sure that everyone from the government to the school district have to do the same. These districts will no doubt try again sometime soon, and it would be smart for them to show the cuts that they are making and how they are finding ways to be more efficient if they want any chance of future passage.

Cubs Owners in Town: Reception Last Night - Tour Today

Turns out that the Cubs Reception with Governor Brewer, Senator McCain (via video message), Speaker Adams and other officials and business leaders was last night. Keep the Cubs has it right, having so many leaders in the room shows a real commitment to the Cubs.

We also got an eye witness account of the event from Terry:

"The reception was impressive yesterday evening. Backdrop was the sunset, there was a great intro video showing off all of the great places that we all love as Arizonans and Mesans. Gov. Brewer spoke about Az being the place with the most IL. natives that have moved to milder climates, that we have one of the seven wonders of the world and how she was committed to making the deal happen. She opened her comments by saying that with the leadership in the room we could get the deal done right then.

So, the leadership in the room; Speaker Adams, Thayer Vershoor, Don Stapley, Steve Court, Cecil Ash, Rich Crandall, Michael Bidwell (who commented on the Cardinals making it to the Super Bowl and the fan support- all sell out games since the stadium was built and how the Cubs could imagine the same support) , Ryne Sandberg, Rep from Harry Mitchell's office, AG's office, I'm sure I am missing some of the elected officials but you get the picture.

Rep. Adams commented on growing up in Mesa and the Cubs being a part of being a kid in Mesa because of spring training. My favorite comment of the evening came from our Mayor- There are 1800 (he gave a much more specific number) miles of coastline in the United States but only one Sonoran Desert. Visitors get a one of a kind experience when they come to AZ.

Crane Kenny had nothing but praise for the way the Cubs have been treated here in Mesa over the years by the City and the Cactus League.

When Tom Ricketts spoke he said it was his first visit to AZ. I hope his first impression is memorable and one that makes him want to come back often. I know that why I ended up here. Many of the people I went to college with at ASU were transplants from IL. I am from DC and many of my friends went to FL for school. It was dumbfounding to me how many of my friends at ASU were from the Chicago area and the point was really driven home when Spring of my Freshman year rolled around and we spent our afternoons in the cheap seats watching the Cubbies. They sure have devoted fans that love AZ as much as the Cubs."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cubs are in town today

Mayor Smith tweeted this morning welcoming the Cubs into town. According to the timeline last week, we would guess that the reception for the Cubs would be soon, maybe even as early as tonight. If anyone has intel on how the reception goes, we would love to hear about it.

It will be interesting to see how the meetings go and any feedback that the Cubs are offering. Is Mesa waiting to put together a final offer until after they see which property the Cubs like best? Will Mesa have to go to an election? If so, are the Cubs willing to wait for election results? What do the offers look like, is there an overwhelming favorite?

Some would argue that having so many options doesn't stack up as well against the single offer from Florida, but we would say that having the ability to craft an agreement together makes the most sense.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tribune shutting down at the end of the year

This is truly a sad day. The East Valley Tribune has announced that they will be shutting their doors on December 31st. From the sound of it, it appears that, since the staff will be offered severance packages or reassignment, the Trib's website will soon be gone as well.

So, that's it. The entire paper will be history. What's more, several national news sites get their local news from the Trib's feed, so it is going to be interesting to see where they go next. Will it be AzCentral who seems to be on their last legs as well? Speaking of, it's a little weird to see, but even the Arizona Republic is covering the announcement.

Twenty years ago, you had the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Gazette, and the Mesa Tribune to get the news. The Mesa Tribune was known for reporting the facts, keeping things relatively fair, and giving conservative opinions with a libertarian, limited government flair. The Mesa Tribune was uniquely Mesa.

Now, we are just left with the Republic, who despite having several Tribune alumni, does not quite have the same feel as the old paper. We should have seen it coming back in April, when they won a Pulitzer, laid people off, and cut back Saturday service.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

You know #FollowFriday. Every week, Mesa Issues celebrates Twitter Friday. Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, newly added post of the month and so much more, all in 140 characters.

Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mesa pitching the Cubs next week

Aided by City and State leaders, the City of Mesa is going to have a chance to make their pitch to the new owners of the Cubs next week. Mesa has several land owners who would be willing to be part of a new stadium facility, and it looks like some of them are going to meet with the Cubs while they are in town.

Mesa is walking a fine line here between being resolved in keeping the Cubs and appearing too willing to do anything. The threat from Florida is real, but that should be mean that the Cubs can hold Mesa hostage for anything they want.

With the potential of facing yet another election, Mesa residents should be reminded that unlike some of the other projects we have voted on in recent years, the Cubs are already contributing to the local economy to the tune of $50 million a year. Mesa cannot afford to lose the Cubs, so let's hope that the Mayor and all of our city leaders are able to put Mesa's best foot forward next week.

Saving $300,000

The City of Mesa is taking another shot at a vision for downtown, this time with a $300,000 stimulus grant. Free money, right? Well, eventually, the taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for this stimulus spree, so maybe this would be a good first place to start saving some of it.

In our attempt to save Mesa $300,000, here is our best guess of what will come out of the study:

- Create a sense of "place" using distinctive landscaping features, pedestrian friendly walkways, and interesting design and architecture.

- Integrate transit into the planning, encouraging different kinds of businesses, shops, and residential to create a mixture of people living and shopping in the area.

- Attract a regional employer or university to locate downtown in the vicinity of the light rail creating a destination for students and workers.

- Focus on the local attractions such as the Temple and the Mesa Art Center and attract like minded opportunities to their area to create a richer experience.

- Encourage the integration of historic neighborhoods with new, interesting architectural designs to embrace the area's history while looking ahead to its thriving future.

- Give the area a name and a theme that capture the spirit and essense of the area.

- Place residential and office above retail locations to create not only a shopping destination, but an interesting place to live and work.

Any of these sound familiar? We understand that there should be a plan in place for what to do when the light rail comes, we just wonder how these planners make so much money by basically saying the same thing over and over. Mesa would also do well to talk about how this is not coming out of general fund dollars, because taxpayers aren't all that interested in a downtown plan, when the city has already had to cut millions from their current budget.

School Override Elections on Tuesday

There hasn't been a lot of talk about it, but Mesa Public Schools along with nearly 30 other districts across the valley are headed to a school override election this Tuesday. Make sure you look at the issues for yourself, but with the current state budget taking such a big chunk out of education, one would assume that these override and bond issues are becoming increasingly more important.

That being said, the schools that go out for these overrides time and again should not assume that these issues are going to pass, just because they have in the past. There is a large group of people, especially in Mesa, who are going to vote no on anything. School districts should me mindful of this fact and be very transparent about what the money is being used for, and how the money has been spent in the past. Taxpayers are inclined to continue to give money to schools, but they want to make sure that their money is being used efficiently.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Naples group is serious about the Cubs

The group from Naples, FL is serious in their endeavor to attract the Cubs. They have several serious supporters and it looks like they may have a few funding options at their disposal. As Keep the Cubs mentions, however, they appear to have very little political support for their effort. So, if push comes to shove, and the stadium eventually needs taxpayer funds (which pretty much all stadiums do), there's a big chance at trouble.

However, with the intentions of Naples on the table, it does teach us a few things:

First, as blogger Joanna Allhands points out, a downtown stadium is probably out of the picture. There is not enough acreage available to support that type of facility and retail attraction that the Cubs appear to be looking for. If Mesa is to be competitive, their location will not likely be downtown.

Next, it appears that more than Mesa may need to be involved. By now, the Cactus League must realize that the Cubs are the rising tide that lifts all ships. They should be helping keep the Cubs in Arizona. Same goes for all midwest transplants throughout the Valley. The local Cubs fans should be on red-alert.

Finally, Mesa is going to need to hit a homerun. Not that there isn't enough pressure on Mayor Scott Smith, City Manager Chris Brady, and whomever else is on their team already, but Mesa needs to show that they have come to play. This may not necessarily mean more money or bigger deals, but it should show a creativity that may not have characterized Mesa in the past. This is just too big of a revenue source to let leave. Which means Mesa should either embrace the Keep the Cubs effort that is already underway, or do more in promoting their own effort.

Bad news for sales tax revenues

Once again, Mesa's sales tax revenues have taken a turn for the worse. Once again, Mesa is on the sales tax revenue roller coaster. Once again, we are waiting for the end of the month and crossing our fingers that revenue should be okay. Last month it looked like things were stabilizing, but this month revenues are off again.

Although this sparked a bit of back and forth last time, this is yet another example of why Mesa needs to look for steadier revenue sources. Again, we are not advocating for a tax increase, but we do think that the City should be able to offer its citizens a minimal expectation of what services they should expect.

All of this bad news just goes to serve as a reminder why Mesa needs to work hard to keep revenue sources that we have (the Cubs) and continue to foster others that have future potential (Gaylord and Gateway).

Safety Tips from the Mesa Police Association


Mesa, AZ - It is important to keep our kids and community safe during Halloween. As you are getting yourself and family ready for the spooky festivities, the Mesa Police Association (MPA) has a few tips to consider. "

Children can hardly wait to put on their costumes and fill up their bags with treats," states Sgt. Fabian Cota, President of the Mesa Police Association. "Unfortunately that excitement can sometimes make both children and adults forget to be careful while they're out having fun. "

Mesa Police Association is offering the public these instructions for friends and family to stay out of danger this Halloween.


-Teach children if anyone tries to grab them to make a scene; loudly yell this person is not my father/mother/guardian; and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.

-A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. Stay in a group, walk slowly and communicate where you are going.

-Plan and review with your children the route and behavior which you are familiar with. Remain on well-lit streets and use the sidewalks. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway. Never cut through alleys or sidewalks.

-Check the sex offenders database so that you can avoid those houses, if applicable, in your neighborhood.

-Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

-Make sure you use a flashlight with new batteries.

-Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.

-Teach children their home phone number and to how call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.

-Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.

-Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury. Also, beware that some masks can block light.

-Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible Adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

-Remember curfew and noise ordnance laws - police officer do enforce these.

If parents, friends and family follow these tips, the MPA is sure that we will continue to keep our community safe. Founded in 1989, the MPA’s mission is to promote the positive role of Law Enforcement Professionals, and to protect and secure rights and benefits for our members through effective representation with local, state, and national governments. The organization is currently the largest association representing active Mesa Police Officers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

State of Mesa: Councilmember Scott Somers - District 6

We have a new edition of our series, "State of Mesa." We have offered each councilmember an opportunity to submit their own editorial on the state of their District to be posted on Mesa Issues. Here is Councilmember Scott Somers' State of District 6:

State of the District: Mesa Gateway Bucking the Trend

Mesa, along with the rest of the nation, continues to struggle with the downturn in the economy. Many economists are starting to say that we’ve hit bottom, but it certainly seems to be a marshy bottom as unemployment in Arizona continues to hover above 9-percent. In this environment, investments in economic development become increasingly important for our State and City’s long-term recovery and growth.

In many ways, southeast Mesa is bucking the trend of receding economic activity with the addition of new businesses and expansion of existing ones. This growth has created jobs and brought millions in private investment to the City.

Major aerospace employers now occupy the north ramp of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Cessna, Embraer, and Hawker-Beechcraft have or will soon create a combined $47M in capital investment with 260 jobs and an annual payroll of $16M.

Despite the decline in business and recreational air travel, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and its major tenant Allegiant Airlines continue to expand. The Airport Authority recently accepted a $9M Federal grant for the expansion of the Charles Williams Terminal. With that announcement came the addition of Allegiant’s 20th destination from Mesa. Allegiant employs 60 people at Gateway and funded an earlier $3M expansion of the terminal.

The Arizona Aerospace Institute was conceived to promote a global role for the State in aerospace research and infrastructure. We expect AzAI will soon plant its flag in Mesa. Mayor Smith and I are pleased to be among the founding members of the advisory board.

Manufacturing is beginning to seed itself near Mesa Gateway. Soon CMC Steel will open its doors. The company will recycled metals to create steel rebar. The mill’s capacity will be able to supply nearly all the steel rebar needs for Arizona. CMC invested $120M in our City and will provide 60 jobs with an annual payroll of $3.6M.

Healthcare services are expanding in east Mesa. Banner Baywood recently opened its new emergency room; Mountain Vista Medical Center is up-and-running offering improved cardiac and stroke services to the east Valley; and A.T. Still is expanding its medical education and services campus to begin construction on a specialty hospital.

Tourism initiatives in southeast Mesa are progressing. Last year voters overwhelmingly approved the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center. This project will bring 1200 resort rooms and nearly 500,000 s.f. of convention space to Mesa. Despite the down economy, Gaylord Entertainment was able to retire debt and raise capital, money that is reported to help with their expansion projects, most notably right here in Mesa. Gaylord will bring nearly $1B (that’s Billion) in private capital investment to Mesa – the largest such investment in Arizona history.

Don’t be surprised if you see a movie star in Mesa in the coming years. The Gateway Studios project located south of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport continues to move forward. While there are a few obstacles to overcome, this project promised to bring $70M in private investment to southeast Mesa, along with some notoriety.

Mesa is quickly being recognized for its innovation in planning. Recently, the Mesa Gateway Strategic Development Plan, which we’ve been working on for nearly 2 ½ years, received an award from the American Planning Association for “Best 21st Century Plan”.

I expect southeast Mesa will continue to see tremendous growth in Healthcare, Education, Aerospace, and Tourism in the coming years. Will continued diligence and innovative planning it can truly live up to our vision of a 100,000 high-wage job center.

@MesaIssues Twitter Friday

Everyone always talks about #FollowFriday. Here at Mesa Issues, it's also Twitter Friday. That means we'll be on Twitter today talking Mesa, recapping the week, and sharing our thoughts in 140 characters or less!

Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yankees one win from shutting out Cactus League

Just 10 days ago, we said that we had spoken too soon about the Cactus League not doing well in the MLB playoffs. We guess we spoke too soon again. The Phillies beat the Dodger in convincing fashion in 5 games. Now, we are one Yankee win away from the Cactus League being shut out of the World Series.

Like we said before, it's good that spring training in Arizona next year will be home to two of the final four MLB teams in the Playoffs. However, it doesn't look like we will be home to either the NL or AL Champ, or the World Series winner.

Let's hope that this will help motivate the Valley to rally behind the Cactus League and help keep the Cubs in Mesa and help the Gila River Indian Tribe find a team of their own.

Fewer DUI arrests in Mesa - Good or Bad news?

Normally, a decline in DUI arrests would be considered a good thing, right? One could assume it meant fewer impaired drivers on the streets and that the harsher DUI laws are working. The Mesa Police Association doesn't think so.

The Mesa Police Association believes that the reduction in DUI arrests is a function of the decentralized enforcement system that has been implemented along with policy changes requiring all offenders to be taken into custody. They argue that the shift of focus from DUI enforcement to overall patrol is the cause of the reduction in arrests.

So, the real question is: are DUI arrests down because there are fewer people committing this crime or because there are fewer people enforcing it? Have DUI casualties gone up? Have property damage and collisions gone up? What are the trends like in other communities?

Its easy to guarantee that something will go up if there are more officers to enforce it. That is true of any type of enforcement. If more officers were looking for drug dealers, they would probably net more arrests as well. The question is, is Mesa being dramatically underserved now in its DUI enforcement because of these policy changes?

Mesa lands national swim meet - every little bit helps

Here is some good news for the local economy. Mesa has been tapped to host a national swim meet in 2011. The event is expected to attract over 2,500 swimmers (including former olympians) and is expected to generate over 12,000 room nights in hotels.

They are estimating that this will generate $1.5 million for the local economy. It's not clear how much of that money will go directly into the city's general fund to off set some of the major cuts we have seen as of late, but the truth is, every little bit helps.

Anytime Mesa can be placed on a national stage is positive news generating more opportunities for visitors to come to Mesa, spend money, and learn more about our city. The more events we can attract, the more momentum that is gained for Mesa as a destination and before long, our city can be a "must-schedule" for rotating events.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keeping Gateway Affordable

Mayor Smith wants to keep Gateway Airport affordable and simple and we think that's a good thing. Maximizing the amount of money squeezed out of something like parking only eventually leads to that money being programmed for something else unrelated. When this is done, it eventually means that when or if the money starts to dwindle, other funds must be found to keep that particular project going.

Look at the tobacco funds for children's programs, for example, people are smoking less - that's good, but now it means less money for the kids - that's bad. So, where next to help the kids?

If parking is merely self-sustaining and affordable, it becomes much easier to manage, and can become a potential resource in the future. Keeping parking in line is sort of like keeping an open equity line on a property. The old wisdon is that equity should only be tapped to improve the property itself, thus adding value. Keeping parking unincumbered not only keeps Gateway an affordable travel option, it could eventually help with the Airport's long term growth.

The Mayor is right - just because you can make money doing something, doesn't always mean that it's the best option. Patience and savings always seem to pay off in the long run.

County In-fighting continues

The Maricopa County Attorney's office wants to prosecute Supervisor Don Stapley so badly that they are trying to break procurement rules. As a result, the Board of Supervisors is not willing to approve the special prosecutors.

Needless to say, the action was not taken lightly by the attorney's office who compared the board's actions to investigations on former President Richard Nixon. This back and forth is just the latest in the long string of in-fighting.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe has briefly left his partner in crime, Andrew Thomas, to wage the internal battle, so that the Sheriff can try to stand toe to toe with the Federal Government. The sheriff has become sort of like Mike Tyson or Charles Barkley, you never really know what he is going to accuse, and they all become so much bigger than life that you can't really even be surprised anymore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Find your own team!

There is a great editorial from the Southeast Republic saying that the Gila River Indian Community should have a chance to woo a spring training team, but says that it shouldn't be done at Mesa's expense. The editorial makes a good point, these communities shouldn't be competiting for the same commodity, they should be working together to expand it for everyone's benefit.

As we have said before, the current spring training split will not work forever. Next year, there will be 15 teams in Arizona and 15 teams in Florida. This creates a scheduling nightmare, because there aren't an even number of teams, so either some one has to sit out or compete in a split squad game. Eventually, a team is either going to leave for Florida or one is going to come to Arizona. We know that Florida is on the prowl for teams, and have already set their sights on the Brewers as well as the Cubs. Phoenix is probably going to have to do something to keep the Brewers in town as well.

So, this brings up an interesting question - are there other teams in Floriday that should be attracted to Arizona? Here is the list of teams and where they play in Florida. First, they need to update their website a little. The Indians and the Reds don't play in Florida anymore.

In looking at the other teams, you can take a couple out fairly quickly. Neither Florida team would leave, neither would the New York teams (East Coast/newer stadiums), nor Boston which is getting a new stadium (though they are having some trouble). However, the Twins are also in Ft. Myers and are not getting a new stadium. Do you think, perhaps, they would look for greener pastures? How about the Orioles, who have a 20 year old stadium as well.

Clearly, there are some other teams that the Gila River Indian Community could attract that would actually help the Cactus League without hurting Mesa or any other surrounding city.

Please watch your children!

Residents of Mesa: Please take the time to look after your kids. We have had a series of very tragic and unfortunate events that could more than likely be avoided with stronger parental supervision.

Just in the past couple of days, a 3 year old girl was killed in a parking lot, a car hit a stroller, and a toddler nearly drowned. Please keep your children safe!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

We always appreciate the mentions on #FollowFriday and we hope you're ready for another edition of Mesa Issues Twitter Friday. Mesa Issues rewind, great people to follow in Mesa, and so much more.

Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stimulus to help hire 25 new police officers

Mesa has accepted nearly $6 million in federal stimulus dollars and has dedicated the money to hiring 25 new police officers. This is great news for Mesa, and will help continue trend in reducing crime throughout the city.

The stimulus funds will help this program for the next 3 years, however, the challenge will come when Mesa has to foot the bill for the officers in the fourth year. Fortunately, Mesa has three years to plan for this eventuality, and it would be wise for them to start saving now.

The fact that Mesa is one of the only cities that received their full alotment of stimulus funds for this program makes one wonder if there really is anything to the idea that the Dems are targetting Mesa.

Economy still tough for local businesses

The Human Bean, the donut shop turned coffee cafe, has closed its doors. The coffee house was the former site of the controversial Venchell donut shop that ran into sign ordinance issues a few years back.

Apparently, the high profile corner of Country Club Drive and Main Street was not enough to keep business flowing in the area. It just goes to show, that despite some indicators that things are turning around, the economy is still tough for local businesses. The question is, how does this bode for other downtown businesses on Main Street that may not have as prime of a location.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Light rail in Mesa sluggish to help commerce

Merchants along the light rail line in Mesa aren't seeing the financial benefits from being near the busiest stop on the system. Blogger Joanna Allhands blames the problem on the wrong types of merchants and the wrong type of development.

We agree with Allhands on her points, but we also think that there is an even more simplistic answer to the problem. Mesa's only stop is at the absolute end of the line. The traffic is mostly limited to those coming in from further out to board the train and to those coming home at the end of their journey. Therefore, people are close to their car.

If they are just getting out of their car, they have had the chance to stop somewhere else and get what they need. Same goes for when they are done at the end of the day, many would rather get into their vehicle and head toward home instead of doing their shopping right at the end of the line. Having a car gives them the ability to select whatever they want, far beyond the limited options at the end of the line.

The other problem is that there isn't any sort of destination near that stop to draw people from elsewhere on the line. Is there any draw for people to come to Mesa from Phoenix or Tempe?

Historical Museum closing

When it comes to museums, its location, location, location. For the Mesa Historial Museum, its location nestled deep within the Lehi neighborhood has finally brought its downfall. The historical museum is closing its doors, but some of its exhibits will live on throughout the city.

We have always wondered why the Historical museum stuck it out in its current location, the old school house in Lehi. More than likely, the historical location isn't availble for much else, so it was probably cheap to use, but the location, parking, and overall appearance didn't make it all that attractive of a destination. One would think that it would have been better to be located downtown near Mesa's other museums.

More than likely the Cactus League exhibit and the Wallace and Ladmo exhibit will continue on in some form - the Cactus League exhibit moving to a different museum and the Wallace and Ladmo pieces finding their way into other facilities and libraries. If it comes down to it, we would bet that there would be countless local Mesa businesses who would be more than willing to display some of the items.

Also, we're assuming someone else has thought of this already, but it seems logical that the new Cubs facility (or near by) would be a very logical place to host the Cactus League museum since they have the largest attendance.

Perhaps, this isn't the end of the Historical Museum, but rather just the end of it as it is known now. Maybe over time, it could be returned in a different format.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Matta's at Riverview breaks ground tomorrow

The new Matta's at Mesa Riverview breaks ground tomorrow the 13th at 9am. Over at their blog, Got Matta's?, they say that the first 100 people who show up at the ground breaking will get a special gift. Will it be one of their new head turning t-shirts?

The return of Matta's after closing their doors in downtown is in both the Republic and the Tribune as part of the promotion of the groundbreaking. We have been assured that the Republic's version of the article is wrong and the location will be able to seat more than 40 people.

Many will also be excited to know that some of the original fixtures and other unique pieces from the original Matta's will be part of the decorations in the new location. We were, however, a little less than enthused at the idea that the employees with 25 plus years of experience would be asked to return to the new location. The idea is a nice one, but we have had more than our fair share of cranky, old waitresses in our time and think it might be time to give a few young smiling faces a chance.

Either way, it's exciting news for Mesa and for Riverview's entertainment district.

22 Mesa Public Schools have less than 80 percent capacity

It has been known for awhile that enrollment was down in many of Mesa's schools, but we were surprised to see that there are 22 schools at 80 percent or less of student capacity. Here is the list of schools:

Brinton; Irving; Whittier; Hale; Pomeroy; Lincoln; Frost; Jefferson; Bush; Roosevelt; Jordan; Franklin-West; Guerrero

Junior High
Carson; Smith; Brimhall; Rhodes; Powell; Mesa; Hendrix

High school
Skyline and Westwood

Mesa Public Schools is going to face some real challenges in their efforts to diversify and modernize the school system. Although these schools may not be near capacity, they are still home to the 80% or less in the area who attend these schools and count on being able to send their child to a nearby location. A delicate balance between reform and remaining accessible must be found.

Cactus League comes to play in MLB Playoffs

We admit, we may have spoke a little too soon regarding the Cactus League representation in the Major League baseball playoffs. Two Cactus League teams (the Dodgers and the Angels) have made it on to their respective Championship series. The Rockies have an outside chance of going on, but it would be a tall order to defeat the Phillies, who are the defending World Series champs.

Spring Training in Arizona next year will be home to at least two of the final four MLB teams in the Playoffs. This great news for the Valley, especially if the economy doesn't recover as quickly as we all would want.

However, we hope that the the success of the local teams does not overshadow our original premise of why the Cactus League (and Mesa) needs to keep the Cubs. The Cubs are still the rare team that have generate significant attendance no matter their record from the previous year. We may be lucky enough to have teams that went deep into the playoffs this time, but that is no guarantee for every year. For the same reason certain college teams always get a bowl game because their fans "travel well," the Cubs are the rare draw that raises attendance for the entire league.

Friday, October 9, 2009

#FollowFriday @MesaIssues hosts Twitter Friday

We always appreciate the mentions on #FollowFriday, and we hope you like our regular Twitter Friday performance at Mesa Issues, including our special features like another edition of Mesa Issues rewind.

The blogging today will be micro-style via our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smith finds a nicer way to say "Back Off"

Mayor Smith was joined by the Mayor of Denver and the Mayor of Tucson to extoll the virtues of regional cooperation instead of local competition. This latest message, of course, coming a week after Mayor Smith told everyone else in the Valley to stay away from the Cubs. Topics of local cooperation sound like a much nicer way to say "Back Off" to everyone else.

It's good to see Mesa and Tucson together talking about cooperation, especially after Mesa took an active role in trying to land the D-Backs away from Tucson. However, Spring Training baseball is not the only economic opportunity where Arizona needs to work together to seek economic opportunities that benefit everyone.

It's good to see Mayor Smith working with others to bring around a sense of regional cooperation. Mesa has had a role in the local competitions of the past including the incentive war between Mesa Riverview and Tempe Marketplace. While vying for projects will always be part of the landscape, it's good to see that there are leaders out there who are willing to look towards the statewide well-being instead of sacrificing long-term regional benefits for local gains.

Creative ideas for Mesa Public Schools

In light of the potential shifts in enrollment and moving grades around, Mesa Public Schools is looking into creative ways to use their existing facilities. From traditional schools to more specialized campuses, MPS appears to be taking the model of the past and changing it to specialize more for the differing needs of the students and desires of the community.

Their desire to "not lock the district into one educational model" is going to be a key for their long-term success. It is going to take some time to finalize the details, but the result has the potential of creating a robust district filled with a diverse number of educational options offering vocational, traditional, and advanced education.

The challenge to some neighborhoods will be that the local elementary school or junior high may change its purpose or focus. Some parents will no longer just assume a natural progression from the neighborhood elementary to the closest junior high and then on to the local high school. Instead, the closest school may not be the best to fit the needs of your child, and you're going to have to look around for the campus and the school that meets your student's needs.

This will be a challenge, but in the longrun, it has the potential of producing a wider range of better equipped and educated students ready for college and the workforce.

Sheriff Arpaio continues to pick fights

Last week, no one was willing to step forward and prosecute Supervisor Don Stapley. This week, County Attorney has finally found a team to prosecute the Sheriff's latest witch hunt. These Washington lawyers are the latest to be brought in to try to take down political enemies of Arpaio. The Tribune does a good job of detailing the Sheriff's previous zealous pursuits including his attack on the New Times and the previous attempt against Stapley.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's behavior has also put him at risk of losing his immigration checks. The Feds are trying to take away Arpaio's ability to do supression sweeps, like the one he used to raid City Hall. Instead, they are trying to limit his immigration checks ot the jails, where they have had the greatest success. Needless to say, the Sheriff takes this as a personal affront to his ability to be "America's Toughest Sheriff."

Looks like the Federal Government will be added to his ever growing enemies list.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clarificiation for "Thoughts on Mesa"

Our friends over at Conservative Thoughts on Mesa have written a response to our observation that Mesa would do well with a diversification of revenue sources. First and foremost, to be clear, we are not in any way advocating for a property tax. The voters were very loud and clear on the subject the last time around, and it is not something that should be considered in this current economic climate.

Second, when we talk about diversifying revenues, it didn't necessarily mean we were talking about increasing taxes. We agree that local government should be able to look for flexibilities within their system and always look for the most efficient ways to offer up services. Our observation is merely that, a little stability in revenues would mean that we could develop a minumum expectation of what services should be offered by government.

We agree that cuts are not a bad thing, but we also recognize, that every time you cut something, you are taking something away that you used to offer. Imagine if McDonalds went back to only offering a single cheeseburger and fries - there will be people to deal with.

All we were trying to say is that Mesa would do well to continue down the road of looking beyond merely sales tax dollars in its quest for economic development and jobs.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Playoffs show why the Cactus League needs the Cubs

The Major League Baseball playoffs are just about set, and from looking at the teams, you can see why the Cactus League should be working really hard to keep the Cubs in Arizona. Here are the teams that have made it into the playoffs and where they train:

American League
New York Yankees (Florida)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Arizona)
Boston Red Sox (Florida)
Detroit Tigers/Minnesota Twins (Florida)

National League
St. Louis Cardinals (Florida)
Philadelphia Phillies (Florida)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Arizona)
Colorado Rockies (Arizona)

Notice anything? Florida is home to 5 out of the 8 teams in the Playoffs and is also home to the teams with the best odds of going deep into the Playoffs. In fact, many experts have all of the teams that train in Arizona falling in the first round. It is also important to note that the Dodgers just moved to Arizona this year, otherwise Florida would have had a 6 to 2 advantage.

Why does this matter? Remember the overflow of attention that the D-Backs received after winning the World Series? How about this year after the Cardinals trip to the Super Bowl? Winners attract spectators. When fans come to Spring Training, they flock in greater numbers to see if their team is going to repeat the success of last year or to see how their favorite team matches up with the "big boys."

Cactus League could very well be short of both of these commodities next year. That is where the Cubs come in. It is true that they did not make the playoffs this year, but for the sixth year in a row, the Cubs attendance topped 3 million. Although the Cubs have not won a World Series in over 100 years, they have a very dedicated fanbase that is willing to travel. Year after year, the Cubs top Cactus League attendance, not only in Mesa, but in every ballpark they visit.

The Cubs are the rare commodity that can attract tourists and fans even when their record is not the best. Renewed fan hope has proven to be great for the local economy, not only for Mesa, but for all of Arizona.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Follow @MesaIssues - Twitter Friday

Everyone knows #FollowFriday, but it's also Twitter Friday at Mesa Issues, including our special features like another edition of Mesa Issues rewind.

The blogging today will be micro-style via our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What is the future of the Tribune?

As you may have heard, Freedom Communications, the parent company of the Tribune has filed for bankruptcy. The newspaper business has been slowly dying away for awhile now, and the Tribune may be one of the latest victims.

However, there is a chance that a group from the Santa Monica Observer may try to step in and by the Arizona papers that Freedom is trying to shed. In fact, they formed a corporation in Arizona for the purposes of "the business of newspaper publishing" which one would assume was done under the auspices of buying and operating the Tribune. Still no "official" news, which is probably why we haven't heard about it anywhere else.

Our question is, do these new owners intead to operate the paper as well? They have experience in the newspaper business, so there is a chance that they would want to come in and run the operations themselves. We love the Trib for their local news and their libertarian streak, we hope that anyone who buys the paper will let it stay alive and keep the uniquely Mesa voice that we have grown to love.

Sales tax news good, but not great for Mesa

The sales tax revenues have stabilized some after a couple months of dramatic decline. The good news is that Mesa won't have to face another round of dramatic cuts to bring the budget in line with revenue - at least not now. The bad news is that the sales tax revenues are still low. Staying stable is better than shrinking, but the city is going to have to continue to do more with less.

Also, this only goes to further show that Mesa really needs to diversify its revenue sources. Having one source, such as sales tax, hold such sway over the budget is not good for the long-term economy viability for the city. In addition, it seems like we are now waiting for the end of the month and crossing our fingers that revenue should be okay. The city cannot be operated like some sales office hoping to make its "numbers" for the month.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Smith to Valley: Back off on the Cubs

The Republic says that Mayor Smith fired a "warning shot" at any interests in Arizona who would seek to steal the Cubs. We'd say that he "laid the smack down." By basically telling everyone else to back off and challenging the fact that any efforts to move the Cubs elsewhere in the valley would be strengthening their move to Florida, any team looking to pilfer the team should have some second thoughts.

First, it's clear that the Mayor is going to fight very hard for this team. This is, in fact, a big test for the Mayor. He has has a lot of successes, thus far, making a big difference in some major deals that were started before his time. However, this will be done completely under his watch, and how it ends will have implications on his legacy. By standing up and speaking out, the Mayor shows that he understands the gravity of the situation and expresses his desire to lead.

Next, Arizona financial situation plays a big role in this debate as well. Mesa is going to have a challenge finding a revenue source that doesn't include taxes. For the most part, all of the cities are in the same boat, especially since the state budget is far from fixed. However, with the D-Backs deal and other tribal groups looking to bring other team to their communities, there are different revenue sources that can be tapped. However, locating a team on Indian land is frought with its own perils, not to mention the negative reaction to the potential use of stimulus money to fund a stadium.

Finally, the rest of the Valley needs to realize what the Cubs do to the overall Cactus League. The commenters who say that the Cubs should leave because they "stink" have grossly underestimated the dedication of their fans and the drive they have to bring people to the valley. Spring Training works as an event because people make the Valley their spring break destination. For a lot of those people, it is the only time in the year that they will get to see some of these teams. When Cubs fans come to town, they not only see games in Mesa, but they usually travel around the valley and watch the Cubs play other teams as well. Before these other places step up and try to steal the Cubs, they should ask themselves, should we risk all that we have for the chance to get more?

That sounds a lot like gambling, and if the Cubs are really into gambling, you can bet they will locate near one of these giant casinos. We're sure the Cubs faithful who are used to bricks and ivy are going to want to come out to the desert to sit in neon and concrete. Meanwhile, the folks behind the drive in Naples, Fl, are just hoping that someone else in the Valley takes on Mesa for the bid. It's the only way they become a legitimate contender. Otherwise, it is going to be much easier for the Cubs to use Naples as leverage to get more from Mesa.

Freshmen may return to Mesa High Schools

With shrinking enrollment and growing competition, Mesa Public Schools is looking into returning freshman to high school campuses after a twenty plus year absence. This will boost the enrollment in many of the high schools, trickling down to the six graders moving to the junior highs and leaving fewer students at the elementary level.

They say that the move will allow for competition, with students in private schools being able to enter public high school directly following 8th grade, instead of having to wait a year to go into high school. They are trying this program with a "bridge" pilot which appears to be working at some of the schools and shows promise for going district wide.

We can see how this problem would be helpful in being competitive for enrollment. However, the question is, how does this program save money? Would MPS then close down and consolidate elementary schools? Would they reduce staff? What other changes would be implemented along with this program?

Overall, we see a lot of potential in this program, but we have also seen the reaction parents have when they think programs are being taken away. Understanding how this Freshmen program would work in the context of the overall Mesa Public Schools overhaul is going to be important for its success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Power of Twitter - Cubs Update

We started twitter at the beginning of the year, we had no idea that it would so quickly become the source of major information. From celebrities to sports stars, Twitter is the new great way to get the word out, or in some cases, get in trouble. As for the Cubs staying in Mesa, a lot of the discussion today happened within Twitter's friendly confines, with the biggest news coming that Senator John McCain has made a pitch for the Cubs to stay in Mesa via his official twitter page (@SenJohnMcCain).

Also in the news, Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) discussed the issue quite a bit today on his Twitter feed, ultimately driving his blog post on Mayor Smith's defense of the Cubs onto the front page of AZCentral. In some ways, Resnik has become the Valley's tweet reporter of note because of his updates from the Coyotes hearings and other important local events.

With Senator McCain on Mesa's side and the Mayor telling the rest of the Valley "hands off," we have seen some big news today. Hopefully, more names will start to come on board as they realize the tremendous financial impact that the team has on the entire State. We have a feeling that Twitter will play a major part throughout which is why we recommend everyone should probably follow Keep the Cubs (@KeeptheCubs).

Mesa Police Chief position gathers a lot of interest

More than 50 people have applied to replace former Police Chief George Gascon. It's great to know that there is a lot of interest out there in the position. However, without knowing the names that are on that list, there is no way to know how many quality people there are and allow us to make any discernments on who may be a real contender.

We can probably safely assume that some, if not all of the three assistant chiefs who have thrown their name into the ring will be on the interview list. Are any of the other names rumored to be out there true?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cubs and Mesa: A History

Hat tip to Keep the Cubs for pointing out a really interesting article about the Cubs and their history in Mesa from over the weekend. It's hard to believe that the Cubs first arrived in Mesa in 1952.

They left for Florida for 14 years in the late 60's and early 70's before returning to Mesa to play in the first Hohokam. Now, 30 years after the Cubs return, Mesa is trying to make sure that we don't lose them again. Any new facility in Mesa would be the fourth stadium for them in about 60 years. When you judge how much has changed in that time (especially in Spring Training across the valley), it doesn't seem too out of line for the Valley's preeminent team.

It would be nice to think that the tradition of playing Mesa would be enough to keep the Cubs here and they would be willing to wait for better times to get a new stadium. The cold reality is, they are probably not all that likely to be willing to wait. They are currently one of the "have nots" in a league that absolutely needs them more than they need the league. Team Mesa better have a good plan, because they are going to need it.

Mesa: DC Darling

Gateway Airport is going to receive a $8.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to help expand their terminal. This makes up nearly the entire cost of the planned expansion. This is great news for the growing hub, especially since the expansions will be needed to accommodate the potential traffic from the Gaylord.

With this latest from the FAA and the news last week that Mesa is getting stimulus funds for fire stations, it's hard not to think that Mesa is the new darling of Washington DC. Is it because Mesa has been at the back of the line for awhile and now has a lot going for it? Or is it because Democrats are going after Mesa?

Either way, it's nice for Mesa to finally be on the winning end. Momentum is contagious and the more we focus on our success the more success we'll attract. Let's just hope that all this generosity from DC doesn't come with strings attached.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Follow @MesaIssues - Twitter Friday

It just so happens that #FollowFriday is also Twitter Friday at Mesa issues, including another edition of Mesa Issues rewind.

The blogging today will be micro-style via our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good news for Gaylord Mesa?

Gaylord is putting some cash together, approximately $325 million according to Gary Nelson. He is predicting that this cash will go towards the start of the Gaylord Mesa project, which is good news, if it can be confirmed. We have heard from several people that construction costs are much lower right now, and any work done in this current economy will be more affordable and much more competitive.

In all, the project is worth $750 million. Whether it happens now or later, this is the type of economic opportunity that we can look forward to in helping boost our local economy. It is good news that things appear to be moving in the right direction, and they would do well to provide more frequent updates to the public as things start to happen.

Will anyone back the Sheriff in his Stapley witchhunt?

When you want to prosecute someone, the first step should be finding someone who is willing to do it. In the case of Sheriff Joe's vendetta against Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, Arpaio appears to have skipped that step. Now, the question is, who will prosecute latest Stapley case?

It turns out that the Sheriff's latest arrest came as a surprise to just about everyone. How can anyone look at this situation and not think that this is just a case of political retribution? If you were a prosecutor, would you want to be part of this case? We wouldn't be surprised if no one wants to touch it with a ten foot pole. The only problem is, if you refuse the Sheriff, do you end up on his enemies list as well?

It truly is a scary time to live in Maricopa County where a man has free reign to do what he wants and arrest whomever he feels like. How much louder can we say that Sheriff Joe is out of control?

Report Copper Theft

Copper theft is costing you money. In fact, it is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and labor. Mesa is already in a budget hole, and these type of unbudgeted repairs cost materials and labor that we simply don't have the money for. Blogger Joanna Allhands is right, we should be angry about this.

First, these thieves are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to retrieve only a fraction of that cost in copper. Where are they selling it? How do companies look the other way as people bring in wads of clearly used and hastily lashed together copper? How are legitimate businesses getting a way with promoting theft?

Second, isn't there something Mesa can do to make the bases of these polls more secure? A could of screws doesn't seem to be doing the trick. Can you weld a lock on these things or some other way to secure them more? At least it would take the thieves longer to crack the case.

Finally, it's up to all of us. Everyone needs to keep their eye out for suspicious activity, especially near parks and other facilities that have a lot of lighting. When you are in a public facility, you should remember that your tax dollars help pay for it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making Mesa a "high point"

Mayor Scott Smith conducted his third and final "Conversation with the Community" last night in Dobson Ranch. Before the meeting, he took a moment to acknowledge the recent tragedy, which happened relatively close to where the meeting was held. A very wise and respectful move on his part.

The other topics of conversation ranged from the Cubs to the much maligned massage parlor law. Smith's honesty on both topics is refreshing, especially since he is telling residents what they need to hear instead of only what they want to hear. He's right. Mesa did become the "low point" in massage regulation and that is why so many chose to move here.

It appears that Mesa is no longer striving to be the "low point" within the Valley on this and many other issues. In fact, his straight talk about the need to keep the Cubs just goes to show how far he and the council are going to make sure that Mesa can, in fact, be a "high point" in the valley. Being prepared "to do what it has to to keep the team here" is a major shift from the previous council and their laissez-faire attitude that got us in many of these messes in the first place.

With the economy already in such a mess, we cannot affort to let another $100 million a year walk out the door. Losing the Cubs would not only be a disaster for Mesa, but it would be a deadly blow to the entire Cactus League.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do it for the children!

Mesa Public Schools is putting together a committee to figure out how they are going to approach their future of declining enrollment and dwindling funding. They want the citizens to be involved with the school planning and making the tough decisions. It is a smart move considering the outrage the last time they tried to close a school.

Also in November, voters will have a chance to vote on something to do with the schools. Well, at least for the children, or something like that. These signs have been springing up all over town:

It took all sorts of googling, but as it turns out Mesa Schools is having a maintenance and operations override. Is it Question 1? Is it Proposition 100? Who knows, but as you can see from the sign, it's for the kids! Also, mounting these signs on chainlink fences with barbed wire on the top is a good move because a) it makes the kids look like they are behind bars, and b) it certainly shows a great future for the children who choose to stay in Mesa.

It might be helpful if you told people what you are voting on. And the kids are cute, but what do they mean? What are they leaning on - are those books? We are very supportive of Mesa Public Schools and wish them the best, but we don't think they should have let their students design the signs.

Honestly, we haven't seen signs this bad since Rex Griswold's smiling face staying up while roadside memorials went down.

Mesa gets tough on massage laws

Mesa is looking to take quick action on the laid back massage laws that appear to have brought a lot of seedy parlors into town. They are looking to get the law done by the end of the year, and no one is going to be grandfathered in.

This is great news for Mesa, which hosts 120 parlors compared to Phoenix's 116, despite the fact that they are 3 times as large. This will be a major victory in Mesa's battle to take back its image.

This is only a part of the solution. The other part is enforcement. Mesa PD must be emowered to take a look at the parlors that are acting illegally and do something about them. Not only will this help Mesa's image, but it will allow the legitimate businesses to work they way they are supposed to. Legitimate businesses must be given the tools to thrive, and regulation should be used to drive out the illegitimate ones.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sheriff Joe's enemies list

On Friday, prosecutors decided to drop their case against Supervisor Don Stapley. On Monday, the Sheriff's Office has once again arrested Stapley, this time on different charges. The new charges appear to be similar to the old charges, it that, they look like they were put together by someone who is trying really hard to dig into the cracks and find any wrongdoing. Last time, it was paperwork, this time it has something to do with bank accounts.

The lesson here, of course, is do not get on Sheriff Joe's enemies list. If at first he doesn't succeed, he'll try, try again. What is scary here is that this sort of harassment could happen to anyone, not just elected officials.

Whether or not they are able to make any of these charges stick this time, it's clear that they are going to whatever it takes to get their man. If they can do it to Stapley, why can't they do it to you? How many hours have been wasted in these little squabbles back and forth? How much taxpayer money has been wasted? Did they really need to use more sheriffs to take Stapley into custody? Where were these charges before now? Isn't this all a little bit too convenient?

From raiding Mesa City hall to arresting our County Supervisor, it's no wonder that the Sheriff has it in for Mesa. How long can this guy go unchecked before someone speaks up? How can we feel safe going to the law when we know that someone like this is behind it?

Dobson Ranch Tragedy

Last year it was the grad night shootings, now, in a different part of Dobson Ranch, a mother has murdered her children and committed suicide. This is a horrible tragedy, especially for the father of these innocent children. It seems like, these days, no area is immune to these sorts of events.

When you add in the Fiesta Mall stabbing, it is natural to ask: What is wrong with West Mesa? Well, before you try to blame the downfall on the area, remember that each of these incidents is very unexpected and were perpetrated by an individual who was acting way beyond the acceptible limits of society. One was a crime of passion, the other two appear to be brought about by extreme mental illness.

These aren't gang related crimes, nor are they ones usually connected with the degredation of an area. Perhaps that is why these incidents are so shocking - there is no way to predict them and it would be very hard to prevent them. In the end, the best we can do is come together as a community and support this area in its time of need. There is a father to be consolled and classmates who will be searching for answers on how a tragedy like this can happen. Although the neighborhood will never quite be the same, let's hope the tightknit community mentioned in the paper is able to band together to get through this horrible event.