Friday, May 29, 2009

Twitter Friday - Part 2

Since we had so much fun last week before the holiday, we are going to try it again. Mesa Issues will be offering our commentary today via our twitter page @MesaIssues .

So come on down and join us in a little bit of dialogue. Check us out at We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mayor opposes court move

It sounds like at least some of our questions about moving the Mesa court to Phoenix have been answered. Mayor Smith is opposing the idea because of the cost burdens it will put on the taxpayers. Its not clear how much financial burden or inconvienence this will cause, but Smith is right that the government should be there to serve the people and not the other way around.

As the article states, "Built in 1991, the Southeast courthouse was intended as full-service, one-stop shopping for East Valley residents to avoid the long trip to Phoenix." If that was the intention of the facility, that is what it should be used for. Its one thing to cut costs, but its quiet another to go full speed ahead with building a new court tower, while taking away closer, more convenient court services.

The big issue that was brought up is a good one: what about jury duty? It is our civic duty to vote in elections and serve as a juror of our peers. Does it make sense for people to have to travel all the way to downtown from the far Southeast Valley (during rush hour, likely) to sit around and wait for jury selection? That is a tremendous waste of time for our citizens. Maricopa County should think long and hard before making this decision.

Welcome Toby Keith

Toby Keith is coming to the "official" opening of his Bar and Grill at Riverview. The opening is next Wednesday, which with Keith in town, should be a busy day down there. The question remains, is this enough to bring life to the district?

So far, the word we have heard is that the food is pretty good, and things are looking up a little at Riverview, but while the restaurant is neat, its is not going to be enough to put Riverview on the map. The best hope now is that it will be a catalyst to attract other businesses and restaurants into the area to create a wide variety of things to do and places to eat.

More details on Grad Night shooting

Reminder that the forum on the West Mesa double homicide is tonight. However, if you can't make it, the Tribune has a fairly detailed account of the who/what/when/where/why of the story.

Mesa's 2nd and 3rd homicide of the year were caused by a jealous ex-boyfriend who caught his ex-girlfriend (and mother of his child) kissing someone else at a graduation party. Now, the Dobson graduate who should be thinking about her future has to deal with losing her mother. No word on what will happen to the siblings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eminent Domain: Playing with Fire

Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh has asked city staffers to look into the use of eminent domain to locate a new police station on the blighted corner of Southern and Alma School, which was the old "Fiesta Village." Obviously, as the representative of the Fiesta District area, this piece of property is one of the biggest issues that Kavanaugh has to contend with, but putting eminent domain back into play is a risky venture.

On one hand, he wants to use it for a police station. People generally like having law enforcement close to home, and it would win hands down over an abandoned lot. However, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Kavanaugh admits that Mesa wouldn't need the whole 15 acres for a police station. In fact, he says, "Some of it would be better suited for private commercial development."

So the question is, would Mesa take all 15 acres and then give some of it to some other developer to use? If so, isn't that exactly what got them in hot water with the Bailey's Brake Shop case in the first place? Taking land away from one land owner and giving it to another is still not a popular notion. Next time you take a trip to downtown Mesa, if you need a reminder, stop by and look at Bailey's Shop still standing, surrounded by a fence and empty land that Mesa owns.

It is absolutely appropriate for Kavanaugh to want something done on that vacant corner, but he shouldn't risk the goodwill built up by this new council in the process. Bailey's Brake Shop and the negative national attention was the beginning of the end for the last council as they slowed grinded to a halt, nearly petrified to try anything.

The Mayor and council shouldn't mistake this newfound ability to work together as a mandate to do whatever they want. They have achieved success through thoughful decision making, and they would do right by sticking to that course.

Is Darner changing their tune?

Last week, we discussed Darner's plans to move on selling used cars despite losing their right to sell new Chrysler cars. We applauded the move saying that it was a lot better than the whole dealership shutting down.

Now, are they changing their tune? This week, they are fighting Chrysler's closing and trying to encourage people to urge Congress to reconsider. It is their right and responsibility as good business owners to try to keep their dealership intact. No one begrudges them that opportunity to appeal for a reconsideration. The difference now is what they are saying in their appeal.

According to their letter quoted in the article, Darner is now saying, "They are forcing us to close without any compensation or the ability to sell our businesses ..." Then it goes on to detail the trouble they will have selling any remaining new cars and selling parts to other dealerships.

So, the real question is, are they really planning to stay open?

Grad Night shooting topic of community meeting

Want to learn more about the Grad Night shooting that killed 2 and injured several more? Mesa PD is holding a community meeting tomorrow to give out more information and dispel some of the rumors surrounding the incident. Here are the details:

Community Meeting
Thursday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.
St. Matthews United Methodist Church
2540 W. Baseline Road in Mesa

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How the legislature can hurt Mesa even further

Did you know that the legislature could put another $8 to $10 million hole in Mesa's budget? Remember back in March of 2008, when the previous council had to make cuts? Those were $21 million.

Now, imagine another $10 million on top of that.

Mayor Smith is right, the worst part of this is that Mesa will be punished for doing the right thing. When they saw that the budget was getting leaner, they bit the bullet, made the tough cuts, and even convinced the voters to support a bond package and a secondary property tax for public safety and transportation. Now, the legislature, unwilling to make the same efforts, are trying to pass the problem back to the local cities.

I don't know what is worse, having legislative leadership coming from Mesa, yet being so willing to take actions that they know will hurt their home town, or the fact that they say they are against a tax, when they know full well that their actions would cause many cities to raise taxes.

As I have said before and I will say it again, they should let the voters have a choice.

County craziness continues

Has anyone else been paying attention to all of the craziness that seems to be surrounding Maricopa County? It all seemed to start with the indictment of Supervisor Stapley and the whole thing seems to have spun out of control from there.

Back when it was Romney and Arpaio, they used to fight each other, and let the rest of the county operate in peace. Now its Arpaio and Thomas vs. the world, with one being forced to weigh in on any number of fights that other appears to pick.

The latest that has to do with Mesa is the moving of the criminal division of the Maricopa County court from Mesa to Phoenix. Apparently, its okay to demand for more money and criticize the court tower, but when it comes to someone actually trying to save a little money, there must be some sort of ulterior motive.

Meanwhile, Arpaio is letting too many people off, even the conservative think tanks think so, but hey, you only have to like they when you agree with what they are saying.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, I don't really know how moving the criminal division of court out of Mesa will impact the city, but its not like the courts are going away or the buildings are being left empty. However, what does this do to the victims of these crimes? Will they have to come downtown as well?

Neighbors rally for park improvements

As we said during twitter Friday last week, its great to see people picking up the slack to fix the parks in their neighborhood when Mesa doesn't have the budget. Using a $230,000 donation from the Home Depot and KaBOOM!, Park of the Canals and Beverly Park got a clean up and improvement by over 900 volunteers.

Congratulations to everyone involved and kudos for all of the good work. In this sea of for sale signs, mortgage forclosures and abandoned homes, it is important for everyone to do what they can to keep their neighborhoods clean and safe. Sitting around and hoping that city government is going to have the ability to pay for these types of things is not realistic.

Revitalization is a community effort that must be driven by passionate individuals and committed neighbors if its going to have any form of success. Mesa needs to foster these efforts as best as possible, but the neighbors need to understand that the actual work needs to come from them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Twitter Friday

In honor of the upcoming extended weekend, Mesa Issues will be offering our commentary today via our twitter page @MesaIssues . This will help us keep things short and sweet as we get ready for the holiday.

Check us out at We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mesa using stimulus money wisely

In what reads like a laundry list of "to dos" that the city would be doing if they had monday, Mesa's plan for the stimulus funds have been revealed. Money for police, streets, neighborhood rehab and others are all good things. It appears that several of Mesa's critical needs will be helped by these funds, which, I hope is what the stimulus was intended for in the first place.

Some of the other programs don't seem to be as high of a priority right now (like making our city buildings more "green"), but I don't think that its Mesa's fault that its an area that they have to spend money. In fact, I think its part of President's agenda to force cities to apply their money towards programs he supports such as environmental, transit, and rehabbing the Salt Riverbed.

In the end, Mesa did a good job of avoiding programs that will put the taxpayers on the hook for the long-run. We may see a problem 4 years ago when paying for these extra police officers becomes Mesa's responsibility, but hopefully the economy will recover by then, and besides, its hard to complain about having more police out there making the streets safer. Let's just make sure they are looking for real crime, instead of seeking out noise complaints.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Senator Pearce, Please save Immigration for another time

First, its important to note that we have advocated time and again for immigration reform and more done about reducing the effects of illegal immigration in Mesa. It is a problem that needs to be dealth with.

However, we have to agree with blogger Joanna Allhands that bringing up immigration now is just a distraction from the current budget troubles. Mesa's Senator Russell Pearce is hosting the hearings and has split them up into 3 panels:

-- Panel 1: "National and local experts in immigration policy and sanctuary cities," including Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

-- Panel 2: "Victims of crime of illegal aliens," including Ed Kowalski of the 9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation.

-- Panel 3: "Public officials who support sanctuary policies," although many of the invitees would argue they aren't, including Mesa Police Chief George Gascon. The press release then goes on to say that "members of this panel have not responded to the invitation to attend."

I am sure that Gascon is going to attend a meeting where he is being accused of supporting sanctuary policies. Also, its good to note that the legislature is really trying to take great strides to work well with the cities in which they live. I am sure Mesa appreciates Sheriff Joe sitting on a panel as an expert after he raided Mesa City Hall last year.
Meanwhile, as the Republic points out, the legislature is supposed to be devoting their time to fixing the budget. Instead, we are having side shows surrounding illegal immigration that aren't going to result in any good policy. Look, if the legislature was willing to allow the voters to decide on the budget, as we have advocated before, they would have all the time in the world to host these types of circuses. However, in the meantime, perhaps its time to save immigration for another, more suitable time.

Noise ordinance needs to be thoughtful and flexible

Mesa is considering making a noice violation a civil offense (Republic version here). As I read it, it looks like the revamp surrounds giving officers the discretion to decide to ticket people or not. Currently, it sounds like people are given a warning of violation before being issued a ticket for a repeat violation in 90 days, and then given criminal misdemeanor charge which requires a victim or someone who is willing to make a complaint.

Several concerns have arrived, such as the impact such a law could have on churches (including this church who is already receiving noise complaints) and other special scenarios - any of which can be laid out in infinite detail. While its true that changes may need to be made to Mesa's noise ordinance, it seems a little harsh for people to be able to be immediately ticketed at the discretion of any officer. Afterall, what if there were immediate repercussions for any officer who leaves their gun in public?

Replacing a system contained with mandatory warnings for a civil citation, with a minimum $250 fine, plus court charges could create some very terrible problems for Mesa residents. What if parents leave their kids home alone for the weekend and come home to a $1000 in civil fines? What exactly will be the noise standard and who is going to be the judge? What is too loud?

Police officers have tools and tests to determine DUIs, they have radar guns and cameras to determine speeding. I am sure that the decibel readers are a pain, but is it really that bad? Noisy neighborhoods are damaging to our quality of life, but a strict and stringent rule is not the answer.

Welcome Cindy Crawford

I know its about 15 years later and she is now 43 years old, but it still is a little bit exciting that Supermodel Cindy Crawford will be in attendance for the naming of the new tower of Banner Children's Hospital.

The tower is being named the Cardon Children's Medical Center after Mesa's Cardon family who apparently donated $10 million towards the construction of the tower. Adding to the flashback to the early 90's, former 49ers QB Steve Young will also be in attendance. Matt Leinert, who was probably in elementary school at the height of the other two's popularity, will also be there.

The bigger news here is that this tower is part of the $356 million expansion slated to open in November, which I believe is the largest capital project planned for the entire valley this year. In addition, they are going to hire an additional 127 nurses, which should help ease the blow of the 60 jobs lost last month.

From supermodels to more jobs, this thing looks good all the way around.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Help Gateway land another airlines

Virgin America Airlines is looking for new locations for their flights. Enter the backers of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway pushing an effort to encourage the San Francisco based flyer to offer service in and out of Gateway. Sky Harbor is also looking to attract them as well.

Here is the text of an email that has been forwarded to me a couple different times:

Gateway needs your support!

Virgin America is considering scheduled air service to the Valley from San Francisco, California. We respectfully request your support in recommending Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport for this service.

Please go to this link and type in PHOENIX-MESA GATEWAY AIRPORT in the TO box and SFO in the FROM box. Then press next and you're done.

Thank you for your support!
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Marketing Department


As I have said before, Gateway needs to look for ways to expand their revenue base so its not dependent on any one group. This seems like an excellent opportunity to do so. We have you have a couple of seconds, you should click the link. Its very quick.

You have to hand it to the Gateway Airport marketing department for their commitment to getting the word out and using Virgin America's own tools to do so. Its time that Gateway is considered a serious contender as an airport reliever. It is going to be up to us to make sure that Virgin America gives the destination the consideration it deserves.

Mesa waking up

Sometimes, it still feels like Mesa is waking up after a long slumber. Mesa is now reviving their participation in the Sister Cities program which was long ignored under previous leadership. The program where cities connect with other cities across the world appear to provide value in the exchange of cultural understanding, international relations, and economic development.

These types of relationships could especially be beneficial to Gateway as we seek international trade opportunities and encourage foreign participation in the growth and development in the area.

Some of the decisions that were made in the past don't seem to hold up when they are viewed in the light of day. Mayor Hawker didn't support the program because it was "boring" and it required some subsidization.

Participation in Sister Cities is just one of the many ways that it appears that Mesa is waking up to their potential and taking steps to reach a greater future. Costs and spending should always be a priority, but for too long, it had been the only qualificiation driving Mesa's growth and development. This "as long as its cheap" mentality is what has helped attract Pay Day loan centers and a booming housing market without any thought to attracting more employers.

Its good news to see renewed interest in the Sister Cities program. Its great to see transit efforts such as light rail are being thoughtfully considered instead of being dead on arrival. Encouraging people to shop locally and demanding quality development out of projects such as Gaylord can help generate more revenue and raise our reputation.

Let's hope Mesa is able to fully awaken in time to take advantage of the upcoming economic recovery.

Darner not giving up

Although Darner Chrysler is on the list of dealerships who will no longer be receiving new cars, the owners have announced that they will not be shutting their doors. They are going to continue to sell used cars, trucks, and parts. Good for them for not giving up!

The move does mean some lay-offs, but its a lot better than the whole dealership shutting down. Don't get me wrong, this is going to be a challenge for them, but as a family run business, hopefully they can offer some competition to some of the corporate run dealerships.

Perhaps, they can also participate in the "shop mesa" program so people can get a bunch of Mesa Bucks for keeping their money in town. In the end, this is the type of fortitude that we should recognize and celebrate.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Auto crisis comes to Mesa

More bad news for a Mesa budget that is already overly dependent on sales tax revenues. Darner Chrysler was named as one of the nearly 800 dealerships nationwide that will be closed as part of the Chrysler's bankruptcy restructuring.

Today, GM is also slated to annouce the closing of over 1,100 dealerships nationwide. It is not clear if any of the Mesa dealerships will be on the GM cut list, but it probably goes without saying that everyone is on edge due to the possibility.

It wasn't that many years ago that cities all over the East Valley were battling for dealerships because of the huge numbers they generate in tax dollars. However, as the bottom has fallen out of auto sales, the cities are really starting to feel the pinch - especially in places like Mesa that have very few alternate sources of revenue.

Mesa has done its work, though, making the necessary cuts and convincing the voters that they needed additional revenue for critical services. Other cities like Gilbert are starting to feel the pinch and now just as the auto manufacturers, they are having to slim down.

While the economic decline has slowed, its hard to say if we have reached the bottom. Let's hope that we will start towards recovery soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Missing Disabled Teen Found - UPDATED

Have you seen this teen?
Michael Anthony Lindsley, a 17-year-old Mesa resident with limited mental capacity, went missing Wednesday evening. He was last seen riding a silver razor scooter outside his home, near Alma School and University, around 5:30 p.m. If you have any information, please contact Mesa PD at 480-644-2211.

Update: GREAT NEWS. Lindsley has been found and is being returned home.

Gascon on his way out?

The City Council has taken quite a few votes and made some major personnel decisions in their first full year in office. None though would be as big as this one. Police Chief Gason is reported to be a finalist for the same job in San Francisco (Tribune version).

Gascon has had his fair share of critics, supporters, controversy and success - most of which has been centered on immigration and his battles with Arpaio.

From the beginnning, many thought Gascon was using Mesa as a stepping stone to get to a bigger city, most likely in California. In fact, Mesa thought the same, providing financial incentives for him to stay. That talk died down a little once Los Angeles found a permanent police chief who likely will be around for years.

Unlike Blogger Joanna Allhands, I don't necessarily believe that it means he is looking to leave. Being a finalist for San Francisco definitely fuels speculation that he may be open to bigger and better things. Bear in mind, Gascon was approached by a recruiter for the job, he wasn't looking up "police chief" on He has made great strides in reducing crime and finding innovative ways to do more with less. However, I think we all can agree that there is still work to be done.

At the same time, we should be realistic in the fact that this might be exactly what Gascon is looking for. A bigger California city, which allows him to be closer to his family, one that doesn’t quite have the budgetary problems or immigration fervor that characterize Mesa. Mesa leaders have repeatedly stated they are not a sanctuary city and even went as far as to change the policy regarding illegal immigrants last year. Still not enough for some, the repeated calls for Gascon's removal and the constant pitting of him against Sheriff Joe is a lot for any person to handle.

Perhaps, the biggest bonus for Gascon may be that he’ll have policies that will allow him to focus on what he is best at, community policing and reducing crime rates, without having to play the political games he’s had to face here in Arizona. Despite some bad decisions of late, I still think that he is a good for the community and we should be complimented that he is a hot commodity in the law-enforcement world. It would be best for him to stay and finish what he started, but ultimately, the decision is up to him.

We should all keep an eye on this story as it develops.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is your vision for downtown?

As one of the major land owners, the City of Mesa wants to play a major role in determining the vision of downtown. It is wise of them to not to take over the process, but also not stand on the sidelines either. However, the issue remains the same, there really isn't driving traffic, people, and jobs to Downtown.

Downtown is not on a major freeway, its not really all that easy to find, and in some ways the boundaries are not all that easily defined. The Temple should probably be included in the planning process, but it is not clear if they have been invited or are even willing to participate in the process.

Perhaps a downtown university could provide the spark, or maybe bringing in even more museums could help spur the cultural aspect. Maybe there is something to the idea of attracting a Soccer team and a soccer stadium. In the end, it will probably fall to light rail to be the savior of downtown, but I don't know if its enough to do the job. The area needs a bonafide attraction if they think its not just going to be one failed rennovation after another.

Some good questions for Arpaio

Author and occasional radio host, Austin Hill has some great questions about Sheriff Arpaio. Of course, just as he points out in the article, he comes under fire from those who think that the sheriff is infallable and anything he does in the effort to combat illegal aliens is completely justified. There are real questions here that should be answered.

The real question from Hill, is a good one. What is the deal with the money spent by the sheriff's office regarding their trip to Honduras? What were they treasure hunting....people hunting? Everyone was quick to line up to question Gascon when, where, and why he was in DC. As I have said before, his answer and his decision making was flawed. Meanwhile, the Sheriff can let's this thing ride, and everyone gives him a pass for it.

So far, one guy likes "Mesa bucks"

The Tribune has interviewed one guy who has used the "Mesa bucks" cultural program and are now announcing that the early feedback is positive. Perhaps the author should take a few minutes and see if someone else could be tracked down to help add a level of credibility. Otherwise, the headline should have read, "Some Guy from Las Sendas Likes Mesa Bucks," since that is pretty much the crux of the story.

Anyway, as I have said before, this could be a pretty good move, because its getting people to spend their money in Mesa and then its getting them to spend even more on Mesa's cultural facilities. Still, the program seems a little confusing. Now, its clear that you take your receipts in and they will give you bucks based on your sales tax amounts. Okay, that is easy to understand, but then they have limited the denominations and are rounding amounts to $5 increments. That's nice for those who have spent less because it actually gets them more than they spent, but what about the people who say, spend $7 in taxes? Do they get $5 or $10?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gateway concerns

Boeing is moving 60 jobs in their F/A 18 repair facility to Florida. They are keeping their helicopter testing and operations here, but it still means 60 fewer decent wage leaving town. It sounds like that these plans were a long time coming, but its still disappointing.

In addition, a major piece of land near Gateway may be heading into foreclosure. The land was going to be used for a major mixed-use trade center. Now, they are going to switch gears and see if they can use some of the land as a "green zone" in an attempt to attract federal funds. Its not clear what happens if they are unsuccessful, but we should be expecting some setbacks like this during this economic climate.

Finally, as resorts are reporting record drop-off, blogger Joanna Allhands ponders if Mesa's Gaylord project will be able to meet expectations. It is anticipated (or at least hoped) that 2011 will lead the upswing, which completely fits the Gaylord's timeline, but if things are in fact a little slow, what happens then? She also wonders if the shift towards a more frugal lifestyle will impact Gaylord's high-end appeal.

All of this goes to show that while Gateway clearly has a lot of promise, its not all a guaranteed result. The City and everyone who is involved must make sure that they are doing everything they can to ensure that the area is successful. Losing 60 jobs is not as impactful if you can turn around and attract 300. Losing a plan to foreclosure can be fixed if you find someone with either better financing or a more solid plan for the land.

I still fully expect that the Gaylord will be built, and I think that their appeal will be able to survive the "new frugality" of the recovering economy. Their business model of "everything in one place" is going to be attractive to many people, and in fact, I think it may draw some traffic away from posh Scottsdale into Mesa where they could get more bang for their buck. However, it does bring up a good point:

Gateway's future should not depend solely in Gaylord's success. Gaylord will be an economic driver for the area, but it shouldn't be the only one, and the leaders shouldn't rest on their laurels.

Interesting Idea

Loyal reader Heath Reed has a very interesting idea about the WAC coming to Mesa to play baseball. It could be the perfect in road for MCC to make connections as they transition into a 4 year university.

For many years, MCC has had a respectable athletic program that has been very competitive (especially in areas like soccer), and MCC has also served as a stop-over point for talented athletes as they try to improve their academics before transfering to a big school. An eventual home in the WAC would be a great opportunity to bring even more competitive college atheltics to the valley.

And yes, its many years away, but having a vision of what you want to accomplish, and putting that into place during a formative transition would be a good idea.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

West Mesa violence prompts community safety meeting

West Mesa CDC is hosting a Neighborhood Safety meeting tonight:

West Mesa Community Development Corporation
567 West 10th Street
(Corner of Date and 10th Street)
6:00PM - 7:30PM or call at 480-964-3751

The meeting comes after Mesa's first homicide of the year taking place nearby and the barbershop shooting that occured last night. So far this year, Mesa has been able to avoid some of the violence of the past few years. Let's hope that the violence doesn't rise as the temperatures do.

As always the case, the homicide discussion has turned into a wild conversation full of conjecture and talk of illegal immigration. However, in a rare move, Nathan Glum, the father of the stabbing victim posted comments and set the record straight on some items in the Tribune story.

That's WAC!

Good news for Hohokam. Mesa signed a three year deal with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) to host their championship baseball series. Let's hope the city dedicates a portion of their ticket revenues to helping rennovate the training facility so we can keep the Cubs in town.

Finding creative opportunities to attract out of town guests is a great way to expand the revenue base. Utilizing existing facilities as the starting point is a smart move. Mesa is full of opportunies like this. Why not a film festival at Riverview or the Mesa Arts Center? Why not host more adult leage baseball championships? Why not team up with the Temple and do some sort of Mesa's LDS roots tour? How about a sci-fi convention to go along with the tattoo convention?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mesa's Higher Education Opportunity

The Arizona Board of Regents are working on plans to make higher education more affordable to the students of Arizona. As part of this plan, they are exploring a whole cadre of options including starting a fourth university, converting a community college into a 4 year university, or working with the community colleges to offer the first two years of classes.

This is great news for Mesa, which could be poised to take full advantage of this movement and reach for an even bigger piece of higher education. First, Mesa Community College is the largest of the 10 community colleges in the Maricopa Coummunity College system. If the Regents are looking to buy and convert a community college, its the natural place to start. It is located across the street from a hospital which would help a medical program. It is also in the heart of the fiesta district, which is looking for a revival and would welcome an influx of students and student housing. If the regents decide to go this route, MCC should be a 4 year college.

If they decide to start splitting universities and decide to spin off NAU Yuma, why not do the same thing for ASU Poly? It is an issue that has been mentioned in the past. The Polytechnic campus is far too important for the future of the Gateway area to be sacrificed to keep the other ASU campuses whole. Polytechnic offers training to a particular workforce that isn't served by the other universities, and they could be the affordable education option for the entire southeast valley. If the regents are unwilling to spin off Polytechinic, perhaps they should sell it to a private university to help with their cashflow issues and allow someone else to operate it.

Finally, if the regents do decide to go in a completely different direction and build a fourth univesity, there should be a play to locate it in Downtown Mesa. We can see what ASU has done for Tempe, and downtown Mesa could receive a similar revival and preservation with something like that. In addition, it could keep all or part of the campus on the light rail line, which would further help development around transit throughout Mesa.

Any of these options would be a serious benefit to Mesa. However, in the end, they are probably likely to go with the path of least resistance and just move to having the community colleges handle the first two years of education, then the students would move on to the main campuses.

Mesa's No-Homicide Streak Ends

Mesa's longest streak without a homicide in almost 20 years came to an end Sunday when a man was found stabbed to death. It is not clear the cause of the murder, but its unfortunate that the streak had to come to an end.

As we mentioned almost a month ago, it appears that the crackdown on serious crimes appears to be working. Now, let's hope that the homicide rate stays low throughout the rest of the year. If Mesa can emerge as a relatively crimefree city as the economy recovers, we will be in an even better position to be competitive in the marketplace.

Gascon is still a controversial figure who should be made to answer for his faults in judgement, but even his detractors have to admit to the fact that he has done a good job of implementing programs which with the help of a dedicated police force, have made the streets safer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mesa's Penchant for Elections

The ruling in the Phoenix court battle over the number of signatures needed to call a referendum may lower the number of signatures needed to refer an item to the ballot in Mesa. The real fact of the matter is that the number needed is pretty low in the first place - if, for example, you take 10% for the last Mayor's race, that is still only about 5000 signatures.

It probably doesn't matter much anyway, because Mesa has Section 613 of the City Charter which was passed in 2004. It says:

... the City shall not expend public funds, grant tax concessions or relief, or incur any form of debt in an amount greater than one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000), and/or exchange or grant City-owned land of a fair market value in excess of one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) to construct or aid in the construction of any amphitheater, sports complex, cultural or entertainment facility, arena, stadium, convention facility, or multi-purpose facility without approval of the majority of the electorate voting thereon at the next ensuing election.

Thus, the council is pretty well boxed in on what they can do, because this has such a large definition. Hence the slew of elections for things like Waveyard and Gaylord (I found out about this law after it was referenced in the ballot language). For example, if Mesa did decide to do something about about spring training where any city money would be involved, it would most likely have to go to the voters. Same thing if say, they wanted to attract a Major League Soccer team or replace Mesa amphitheater with a newer more modern version in an area where people could have concerts that last later than 8pm.

In fact, voters don't really need to go out and collect signatures for every much, because if the city is at all involved, all they need to do is try to apply 613 to the deal. Heck, anything can be called a "multi-purpose facility." This type of a law is not normal, and no other city in the valley has this sort of limitation. Other cities have the threat of referendum, especially with these lowered numbers, but a guaranteed election could halt projects in Mesa and encourage people to take their money elsewhere and even if they decide to go through with the project, it adds to the timeline to wait around for the next election.

Voters in Mesa should be more concerned about 613 than any changes to the referendum process.

Full Day Kindergarten will live on

Even if the state does cut funding to all-day k in their upcoming budget, most schools have developed back-up plans to keep the program in place. This is great news, especially for those who have kids who will soon be old enough to go to school. Like it or not, all day kindergarten is a very popular program, and one of the few things that have come along in the past few years to address the growing education divide between the United States and other coutries.

Again, this is great news, but one still has to ask: if they were able to find a plan to keep this program funded, why didn't they do this in the first place? Its the same question we had when they started tweaking the start times. When there is not a motivation to find savings, people tend not to look for them.

The result is the perpetuation of the idea that there is always more that can be cut. Everyone has an anecdote of a project or spending mistake that they have witnessed that shows a waste of taxpayer dollars. The result is, many people share the idea that there is always room for more cuts - and they are proven right, time and again.