Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to Mesa, President Obama

President Obama will be in Mesa tomorrow making a speech on the campus of Dobson High School. This is quite an honor for West Mesa, and Mesa as a whole. Dobson is taking it seriously, sprucing up the place for the President's arrival (No idea how Mesa Public Schools is affording that, but we can skip that issue for now). It will be good to have a little national attention on Mesa, and perhaps we won't be at the bottom of the "most boring" list next year.

The President is in town to promote his stimulus package and to see the East Valley foreclosures up close. While both of those issues do apply to Mesa, there are several more compelling reasons why he could come to see Mesa as an example to the rest of the country in this current economy:

First, Mesa has made the tough cuts and lived to tell about it. They made major cuts to their budget, police, fire, personnel. They are striving to do more with less and increase efficiency across the board. These cuts were not ideal, but they were necessary.

Second, Mesa has raised taxes and retained the goodwill of the voters. They created a bond package and then reduced it in light of the slowing economy. They explained the critical needs to the electorate and got them to overwhelmingly pass the first property tax in 50 years. They also gave relief to the voters by making the tax go away after a prescribed period of time.

Third, Mesa has been a leader in reuse development. With shops closing across the country leaving big boxes in every community, Mesa has found a way to put these spaces to different uses.

Finally, Mesa is attracting nearly $1 billion in private investment with the Gaylord Project. Now, Gaylord is not going to build in every community, but other cities should look to business instead of to the government to help create financial opportunities for the future. A stimulus will help in the short term, but its the government giving a man a fish instead of teaching him how to fish.

Mesa is so much more than just a town of foreclosures, a point I hope the Mayor and others point out. Hopefully, this won't be the only time Obama visits Mesa during his administration, but City should enjoy the honor while it lasts.

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