Friday, July 31, 2009

The Return of Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

After a few weeks off, we'll be once again firing up Twitter Friday. The blogging today will be micro-style via our twitter page @MesaIssues.

Check us out at We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are the Cubs staying or going?

When it comes to economic development in Mesa, nothing is more important than the boost Mesa gets from the Cubs every spring training. So the question of the moment is: are they staying or going? According to blogger Joanna Allhands, it depends on who you talk to.

Mesa officials say that things are going well, and the Cubs are making reasonable requests. Florida says that the Cubs can't wait to get out of Dodge and they are ripe for the picking, reversing the trend of Florida teams heading west. A reader recently pointed out that there are now 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona. This uneven numbers makes a pain for scheduling, leaving someone forced to either have an off day or split their squad. Basically, something has to give.

Obviously, it would be best for us if another team came from Florida to Arizona. It would be great if they came to Mesa, say near the Gaylord Project, but anywhere in the Valley would be better than in Florida. However, the real focus here must be on keeping the Cubs in Mesa.

The council let the D-Backs go, and rightly so, keeping their eyes on the real prize. However, if the Cubs leave, leaving Mesa empty handed, this whole deal becomes a fiasco. The Mayor and Council have been able to wisely navigate the landscape, making bold moves which have benefitted them greatly. As we have said before, perhaps it's time to start thinking about alternatives that may be more attractive than just fixing up the old park and training facility.

Still not convinced? Redux - Dems open office in Mesa

Yesterday, we talked about Dems trying to get a foothold Mesa, the three instances of a Democrat focus on Mesa mentioned yesterday has now grown to four. The latest is that the area Democrats are opening their Southeast Valley legislative office in East Mesa. Their focus will be on legislative districts 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22.

Some would say that this is a fairly fruitless effort, because if you look at the Senate and House rosters, of those five districts, only District 20 has elected a Democrat. That means the current ratio is 14 to 1. One would guess that this group will likely launch "single-shot" candidate approach next year in an attempt to pick off a few seats.

It is interesting that they chose east Mesa over west, but don't be surprised if the GEMDEM group that was born out of the 2008 Presidential Election will be humming with activity when the 2012 election comes around. Don't think that Team Obama isn't already strategizing for his re-election, because they most certainly are.

An increased Democratic presence in Mesa combined with a much larger amount of attention sounds a lot like a concerted effort to make some in-roads into Mesa over the next couple of years.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Still not convinced Dems are going after Mesa?

First, President Obama speaks in Mesa. Next, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke comes to La Mesita family homeless shelter to promote the new "United We Serve" program as one of the 17 visits across the United States. Now, Mesa receives $6 million for new police officers as part of the stimulus program.

This represents nearly half of the $12.6 million in stimulus that Arizona received in additional officers. The next closest group was the Salt River Police Department who received $1.45 million. That means that Mesa received more than 4 times the amount of stimulus money than any other group. Even more interesting, City of Phoenix received nothing.

Are you still not convinced that Dems are going after Mesa? Is this part of a broader effort to gain in-roads in Arizona or is this more to provide support for Congressman Harry Mitchell?

Despite another crowded Republican Primary, the Democrats appear to be doing what they can to make sure that Mitchell will have a lot of ammunition in the conservative portion of his district as he comes into an election year.

Mesa has been in the Whitehouse spotlight three times now in less than 7 months. One has to start to think that this is part of some bigger plan.

More expansion for Allegiant

Allegiant Airlines is now flying to Grand Rapids, Michigan. This news coming on the tail of their announcement that they had a "highly profitable" third quarter and also added service to Grand Island, Nebraska. This is all good news for Allegiant as well as Gateway airport as they show that they can truly be a hub for travelers.

The fact that Allegiant has been able to do well despite the current economic conditions is a positive, especially since it doesn't appear that much else is happening at Gateway right now. Hopefully, other things are in the works, and we are just waiting for some announcements. In the meantime, it might be nice to hear from some of the planners who are working out there and get a status update on how things are going.

It would be nice to hear from ASU Poly on what their plans are moving forward, the Aerospace Institute would be another one, and it's about time for us to get some sort of update on how the Gaylord is going. All of those folks should take a hint from Waveyard on what not to do when building a relationship with the people of Mesa. Communication is key.

Changing the Perception of Mesa

Did you know that Mesa has added 98 massage parlors since 2004? Great job former city council, just the image we were looking for, the "Massage Parlor Capital of the Southwest."

Anyway, it looks like the new council is taking a look at their image and realizing that massage parlors and the potential prostition involved is not the image we are looking for. Mesa clearly has the most lax massage parlor ordinances in the valley, something that needs to be fixed. In addition, I know money is tight, but code enforcement is one of the best ways to drive these shady establishments out of business.

I don't know about the legality of this, but Mesa should definitely require permits to open a parlor (like palm readers, pawn shops and others) and make the initial fee relatively normal, but make the fee go up astronomically for every violation they receive. Maybe that would drive these folks elsewhere, while not punishing the legitimate businesses.

It is downright unfathomable that Mesa has more massage parlors than pay day loan shops. Kudos to the Mesa Council for taking action to get something done.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More sweeps coming to the Southeast Valley

Sheriff Joe and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu are working together to sweep the Southeast Valley for the next couple of days. This area includes a portion of Mesa, which is being interpreted by some as a message to Gascon as he walks out the door. It is funny to note that the actual Sheriff Joe said he didn't know anything about the Chief's departure, while his "Real" virtual twitter-self had something relatively nice to say.

Perhaps Joe should look before he tweets, or vice versa. Either way, we're sure it didn't help that Gascon has been in the spotlight the last couple of days. However, we have to wonder, is there something else that the sheriff's office has done that they are trying to cover up? Sweeps usually conveniently happen when an inmate dies, money is misspent or some other shenanigans.

As the taxpayers of Maricopa County, we should almost be relieved if these sweeps are only because the Sheriff isn't getting enough attention. While the papers will try to continue to stir up controversy, it's probably best to treat this for what it is, a law enforcement agency doing some work in Southeast Valley. If we don't blow it out of proportion, eventually the sheriff will get tired and pick a fight with someone else. It's almost like laying still so the Tyrannosaurus can't see you.

Got Matta's?

Another restaurant of interest is, of course, Matta's. We recently discovered the Got Matta's? blog, but sadly, it hasn't been updated since May. It still looks like they are coming to Riverview, but what kind of timeline does the project face?

The economic slowdown may have put a damper on their plans, which is understandable, but it would be helpful to have an update. Back in the day, the Matta's bar area would be one of the busiest in town. That sort of atmosphere would be perfect to get people to check out the Riverview shopping district after dark.

Chavez to open restaurant at end of August

Julio César Chávez's new restaurant at Southern and Country Club is now slated to open at the end of August. This should help rennovate that shopping center along with the grocery store that is supposed to be locating there.

The story discusses a boxing area and a museum. Will that be new construction or rennovation of the existing big boxes over there? Either way, with some new and exciting elements in the shopping center, it could be a new attractive location for a collection of hispanic-focused businesses.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gascon's parting shot

Much to the delight of some and the chagrin of others, soon to be former Mesa Police Chief Gascon is now saying that he was on the verge of being fired before he left to take his new position in San Francisco. This statement is being denied by City Manager Chris Brady and Mayor Scott Smith.

The funny thing is, if you look back on the timeline, Gascon makes his bad move in early April, and announces that he is leaving in mid June. This new mayor and council have been fairly swift and decisive since they took office, why would it take them over two months to fire him if they really wanted to? He makes the bad move, there is a public outcry, the council and city manager react and drop the hammer. If they wanted to, it would have been simple.

This type of revisionist history is Gascon taking a parting shot as he walks out the door. He knows he made a big mistake by taking the special interest money to go to DC, but now that everything worked out in his favor, he is going to try to rationalize his departure a little bit. It's almost like tearing down an ex after you have broken up with them to make you feel better.

Now, we have praised him up and down about the reduction in crime and the stability he has brought to Mesa, but this type of classless swipe as he walks away is unwarranted, and will not be viewed favorably by those who have stuck up for him.

Good News for West Mesa

The old Motorola site has been filled with a firm from Tempe, who will be consolidating their Tempe, Gilbert, and California locations into this one site in Mesa. Still waiting for the details, but any new jobs are good jobs in Mesa right now. The company is called PCT International Inc, and it looks like they work in fiber optic and broadband communications. Their website can be found at:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Criminal Courts are leaving Mesa

The efforts to save the criminal courts in Mesa have failed. Moving the court may save the county some money, but it will take away the "everything in one place" convenience to Southeast Valley residents. The Mayor has been open about his opposition of the move, but it looks like there is nothing he can do at this point.

The bigger question here is that they are using statistics in rising court cases to argue that certain courts should be swapped around to serve the people better. If so, there should be a policy that every few years this type of audit is conducted to make sure the best services are offered close to home.

This certainly should not be done just to make sure the shiny new court complex can be rationalized.

Sycamore Station still the most popular

The Sycamore/Main Station is still the most popular light rail stop, which is not that big of a surprise considering that it is the end of the line stop. Hopefully, this is a boon for Mesa businesses in the area, taking in people from all over the East Valley.

One property owner who doesn't seem to be taking advantage is the owner of a large lot near the station itself. The owner has been unable to sell the land, and in the meantime, doesn't think it should be used to park cars. If you are waiting for the land to be valuable again, why not do something with it in the meantime?

Farmers don't leave their fields empty while they are trying to sell it to developers. They keep on growing crops. Why not do a few improvements to make it ready to take transit passengers, and then charge them to park? People would pay for the convenience, especially if something valuable like covered parking was offered.

Any investment would be a good investment at this point.

Mesa Police Update

Good news: Jail guards are going to be trained on ICE immigration procedures to help handle determining and processing illegal immigrants. Since Mesa was near the back of the line when it came to the ICE training, they actually got the new training, instead of being retrained with the new procedures like the Sheriff's office and others.

Bad news: Mesa PD has been paying a suspended officer $93,000 for the last nine months he has been on administrative leave. If there is that much controversy around a guy, why would you even keep him around? Obviously, you want the police department to conduct the investigations and follow up on complaints, but nine months and nearly $100,000 seems a little excessive. Figure out what you are going to do with the guy and get it done. Mesa cannot afford to pay someone for sitting around.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Waveyard needs two more years

The folks behind Waveyard have finally popped up their heads, to tell Mesa that they need more time. It has been six months since we last heard from them, and since they continue to fail to build goodwill within the community, it's not that big of a surprise that the rumblings about letting the deal expire are starting to grow.

Before people run to get their pitchforks, remember that Mesa does not have to invest any money in this project. The City is not out any money, nor would they be if they waited. The ballfields, golf course, and park would just continue on uniterrupted. So, Mesa really doesn't really risk much.

However, the question on if two years is too long is a legitimate one.

We just discussed how if Mesa was to build a new spring training facility, it should be near a freeway. This location is near the intersection of two. This location is valuable, and perhaps it's time to start at least considering other alternatives.

Waveyard is still potentially an amazing attraction and destination unlike anything that has been done before. Mesa would do right to give them some more time, say 6 months, to see what they come back with. The project was voter approved, and respecting the will of the voters is always the way to go.

In the meantime, it would behoove city leaders to consider other alternatives, so if Waveyard is not delivered as promised, there are some ways to avert voter disappointment. Once again, it could be a way for the new council to step in and save the day.

D-Backs headed to Scottsdale

While Mesa has been out of the running in the D-Backs sweepstakes for awhile, it is important to note that the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale have been announced as the winners. As part of the deal, they are going to build a $100 million dollar facility near Indian Bend and the 101. With a couple of casinos and other ventures, funding shouldn't be a problem.

Mesa should take note, because this latest announcement may have some implications on their Cubs negotiations. First, it is yet another team getting a brand new facility. Second, the new stadium will be conveniently located off of the freeway. Meanwhile, while Hohokam is neat stadium, it's an older facility and located in the middle of nowhere. Not only that, there is no room to grow or develop, so Mesa isn't taking advantage of all the economic benefits that could be available to them.

If Mesa does move forward with a new facility, it should be conveniently located, and quite frankly, it must be a near a freeway. All of the downtown-proponents will be sad to hear this, but people from out of town don't want to navigate a ton of tiny side streets to get to a stadium.

No Surprise

Just as we predicted, Goldwater Institute is going to appeal the impact fee ruling. Glad that their fiscally conservative donors think its better to waste even more taxpayer money by continuing to take Mesa to court. Since when are the Homebuilders worthy of defense?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A lesson on national attention

There seems to be a right way and a wrong way to get national attention. In Mesa, we are seeing quite a bit of it, coming in both ways.

Mayor Scott Smith appears to be gaining attention the right way, with his participation on a prestigious national transportation panel. It paints Mesa in a positive light and shows that the city can be a national leader on important issues.

In what should come as a shock to no one, Sheriff Joe is going the wrong way, picking a fight in Mesa because the Mayor's wife said that the sheriff is not her hero. He also claims that he has never trusted Mayor Smith. All of this is part of the latest feature on the Sheriff which is coming out in New Yorker magazine.

What is scary about all of this is that the Sheriff is willing to say anything to anyone at any time. Do you realize that he openly threatened political retribution in "raiding Mesa again" in front of a member of the media because a fellow elected official's wife said that she didn't favor the Sheriff.

What if she had said she liked vanilla ice cream and the sheriff liked chocolate? Would he have driven his tank down Main Street?

Unfortunately, we have been saying all along that the Sheriff is out of control. Now, it's getting worse because his actions are dragging Mesa into his limelight, when Mesa should be gaining national attention for its work on any number of items including aerospace, transportation, or even urban re-use.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Glad to see Homebuilders and Goldwater Institute lose

Two groups that have continuously hurt Mesa, the Goldwater Institute and the Homebuilders Association, have lost their case against Mesa's use of cultural impact fees. While it is good to question the actions of the Government from time to time, there is a difference between healthy disagreements and constant obstructionism.

If you recall, the Goldwater Institute came out against the Gaylord project. The Homebuilders Association was trying to stop making growth pay for itself in the Arizona state budget and take about $5.5 million away from Mesa in the process. So, needless to say, it's better to see Mesa come out on the winning end of this court battle.

Of course, this isn't over. The Goldwater attorney called it a "setback," which means they will challenge. It's no secret that they are going to challenge until they can't challenge anymore. Is there anyway to accelerate this process? It would be nice if they stopped wasting the city's time and money.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mesa will have fireworks - just not at MCC

Still bummed about the cancellation of the fireworks at MCC? Well, there will still be some fireworks to watch in Mesa.

Living Word Bible Church (3520 E. Brown Road.) is hosting a celebration that starts at 5pm, with Fireworks starting at 9:15. There are also other fireworks alternatives around the East Valley.

It is disappointing that no one came in to "save" the MCC fireworks, but that just goes to show how bad things really are. Let's hope that the fireworks at MCC aren't gone for good, but the skys over West Mesa will be dark this year.

Fiesta MarketPlace coming to Fiesta Mall

Don't call it a swap meet. Fiesta MarketPlace is taking over the old Service Merchandise space at Fiesta Mall and turning it into an upscale, community focused shopping space with booths that can be rented for $400 a month.

Yet another great example of a creative reuse of an existing big-box space. Mesa truly has become a model for this type of reuse, which will be more and more common in the future as shopping centers reach their maturity and seek reinvention. They already have 50 vendors signed up, but are aiming for 100 before they open.

If everyone only took a small booth, they should already be taking in about $20,000 a month, which should hopefully go a long way in paying for the building, the electricity, and the improvements. It's nice to see people looking for creative ways to revitalize the Fiesta mall area.

While Councilman Kavanaugh is right that the area will need creative zoning and different uses to secure long-term viability, in this current real-estate market and economic environment, even adding more retail is a move in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Light posting

You'll probably notice over the next couple of weeks that the blogging around here will be relatively light. It's hot, it's summer. As much as we love Mesa, it's nice to be other places from time to time.

In the meantime, if you have a commentary that you would like to share, send it our way, and we'll post them if we think they are topical. Thank you for your continued support and for your readership.

We'll be in and out, so keep us in the loop of anything that is going on, and of course, you can follow us on twitter @MesaIssues.