Monday, August 31, 2009

Cubs update

If you didn't follow us during Twitter Friday, you may have missed our "follow-raiser" for the effort to keep the Cubs in Mesa. Needless to say, we think it's a good cause, and something that we need to support to help the local economy. If you want to follow that effort, you can check out their twitter feed @KeeptheCubs.

Also, blogger Joanna Allhands has a blog post about the misconceptions surrounding the Cubs. She answers two of the biggest myths that we hear quite a bit, "why is Mesa holding out?" and "the Cubs aren't worth keeping." The third myth we often hear is that if the Cubs leave Mesa, some other town will step in and sweep them up.

Our response is that the Cubs leaving Mesa for some other city in the valley is highly unlikely. The state of Florida is backing the two local cities vying for the Cubs, which is much more than we can say about Arizona. They also don't have a group like the Goldwater Institute which will litigate at the drop of a hat. Combined with the fact that basically every other city is in the same financial mess right now, who is going to put forth the money to keep the team in town?

Some people seem to believe that one of the other Native American tribes will step up to foot the bill. First, this is still untested. The Cubs would be wise to see how the D-Backs and Rockies fair before taking the same risk. Second, it is also fairly clear that the Cubs don't appear to be interested in sharing a facility with another team. Would a tribe put forth that kind of cash for just one team?

It should also be noted that Spring Training is broken up 15 in Arizona and 15 in Florida right now. That makes one team either have to split squad or sit out every gameday. Something is likely to give.

Doing Business in Mesa

Remember what people used to say about doing business in Mesa? If you asked most people, they would say that it is a place to be avoided. How times have changed!

Here is the latest from the firm SDI who is relocating 250 jobs from California to Mesa. One of the reasons the deal happened? Mesa's quick responses and desire to work with a business to get their deal done. Mesa helped push through the permiting process to make sure that SDI was able to get done on time as they emerged from Chapter 11.

The $2 million local expansion is a boon to the city during a time where a lot of new businesses has been halted. Credit the Mayor, the Council, and the overall change in attitude in the city staff for getting this done. Stories like these go a long way in changing the perception of doing business in Mesa.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Waveyard update

Here are some great political cartoons regarding Mesa.
This one is great! They sure are doing a great job letting people know about the latest updates from the project.

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

This twitter thing seems to be catching on! Tune into our Twitter page for another edition of Mesa Issues rewind. That and more as part of 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, August 27, 2009

Financial impact of the Cubs

Not to put too fine a point on the conversation, but losing the Cubs to Florida would be catastrophic to the local economy. Now, we can put a price tag on it. A released report says that the Cubs generate over $31 million in local revenue and over $52 million statewide in tourism revenue.

The article goes on to say that the Cubs generate something like 94,000 hotel room stays while they are in town, 34,000 of which are in Mesa. On one hand, why aren't more people staying in Mesa? On the other hand, where would they stay - in tents in the graveyard?

The economic impact of the Cubs on Spring Training is enormous. If they decide to leave, the boost of all of the teams added over the last couple of years will not compare to the loss that the Valley, and especially Mesa, will feel. It's good news to hear that Mesa is on the case, but they shouldn't hesitate to turn to the citizens in Mesa and throughout the entire Valley to help.

Restaurants closing in Mesa

Pizza Fusion and EJ's steakhouse have now closed their doors. Let's hope things go okay for Julio César Chávez's restaurant which is supposed to be opening soon.

There's a reason why McDonalds is doing so well right now and everyone from the D-Backs to the local restaurants are offering value meals. The economy is bad and one of the first places people tighten their belts is in their food consumption. Discount eateries and fast food is up, while sit down restaurants, fancy steakhouses, and novelty food places are suffering terribly.

Keep this in mind when you are chosing your next trip to a restaurant. If we want to keep some of the unique eateries around town open in the future, we must be mindful about patronizing them now. Popular local restaurants across the city have been suffering and we fear that more may be forced to close their doors if things don't pick up soon.

Getting paid to help Gascon?

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the latest news that Mesa Police employees are getting paid to go to San Francisco and help Gascon set up shop over there. Those who already disliked Gascon and were happy to see him go are clearly going to be upset by this. Those who liked him may not be, but either way, this is an issue.

These trips were approved by the City Manager, so everyone knew what was going on. Perhaps it would have been good to be out in front of this issue and explained to the public the where and why of such a move. Why does it make sense for Mesa to pay for it? Why not San Francisco? "Training opportunity" or not, this does not bode well with the massive budget free-fall that we have experienced over the past several months. This goes to show that Mesa still has a bit of a way to go between what they think is right in the bureaucratic world and what is right in the minds of the constituents.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gaylord timeline is uncertain

In a bit of disappointing, though not very surprising, news, the timeline for construction of the Gaylord hotel is now uncertain. Unlike Waveyard, the financing doesn't appear to be the issue as much as the current economy and the demand for conventions. Following the groups that got blasted for holding posh conventions, one should not be surprised that Gaylord's "everything-in-one-place" luxury model for business would take a bit of a hit.

Gaylord isn't supposed to break ground until the end of 2011 at this point, so there may be still time to stick to that timeline. However, it's much more realistic that the timeline will be delayed slightly to coincide more with the recovery of the economy. We've known since the March election that the project wasn't going to happen overnight.

The project is still on the books and everyone seems confident that the whole thing will move forward. Besides, it's not like other people are beating down the door to use that property. The development of the Gateway area is going to take some time, and in this case, good things happen to those who wait.

In the meantime, just as we said back in March, it would behoove the folks at Gaylord and at the Proving Grounds to continue to communicate with the City, the voters, and the people in the area to let them know what is going on. Waveyard fell flat in this regard and now all we hear about them is bad news. If you keep telling us the good news and show that you are committed as a member of this community, we can look past some of the delays and understand that your intentions are true. When we are left with nothing but bad news, the negative impression starts to seep through.

More on Keeping the Cubs

We need to read between the lines here and see what is really going to be needed to keep the Cubs in Mesa. It's clear that the Cubs really want a new stadium and a new practice facility. When you look around the league and see what the other teams have (especially those in Glendale and Goodyear), who could blame them? Making rennovations isn't going to be enough.

Interestingly, the Tribune, usually the fiscal conservative, is already on the fact that the bed tax might be a good place to go for some of the revenue needed to get a deal done. It does make sense, since the bed tax is used to promote Mesa, and one of the things the CVB does the most is promote the Cubs. Have you ever been down to the CVB office? It's got a giant cactus in the lobby with a Cubs uniform on. Needless to say, they get what impact the Cubs have on tourism in Mesa.

Hopefully, Mayor Smith, Speaker Adams, Chris Brady, and others can come up with a plan that can keep the Cubs in town. Going to Chicago to plead their case and show their commitment is the first step in this process. Now is the time to be creative and look at options to see what is best. Ideally, the Cubs would stay in west Mesa, but short of that, maybe its time to start looking at the Gateway area and gauge some interest in getting some midwest flights to come right into the airport.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Smith, Adams, and Brady off to Chicago to save the Cubs

They could title this story, "The Three Amigos go to Chi-town" or "The Three Muskateers and the raid of Florida..." The list could go on and on. Mayor Scott Smith, Speaker Kirk Adams, and City Manager Chris Brady are headed to Chicago to talk to the owners of the Cubs and meet with executives with Boeing.

The connections between Chicago and Mesa have been long and noted, from being the spring home of the Cubs to basically every pizza place in town being Chicago themed. With confirmation that two cities in Florida are now actively courting the Cubs, Mesa must do what it can to keep the team and the revenue that they generate in Mesa. As we have been saying for awhile, now is the time to start looking for alternatives.

The timing for a new facility is not ideal, but it is essential. With the new ownership looking to maximize the earning potential of their new acquisition, we could easily lose the team to a higher bidder with a slick proposal. We all know that the Cubs are the jewell of Spring Training, and now it is our job to make sure they know how much we know. Mesa cannot be the first city to lose a team to Florida in 20 years.

Everyone knows that Spring Training in the Valley is better - shorter distances between stadiums, less humidity, less chance of a rain out. But when it comes down to dollars and cents, we know that a baseball owner will leave town if there is more money to be made elsewhere... look what happened to Tucson.

In the end, we wish good luck to Smith, Adams, and Brady in their endeavor. This is one of the most critical issues for this new regime and how they handle it could define them far into the future.

Death penalty sought in Grad Night murders

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Brent Mathew Banks who killed his former girlfriend and her companion along with wounding a police officer. The woman who was killed was the mother of a recent Dobson High graduate, who if you recall, was looking forward to spending the entire summer with her mother.

The story also contains more grusome details about the shooting. It looks like Banks killed his former girlfriend while she was on her hands and knees before shooting the boyfriend several times. Combined with the details of the shootout, things don't look good for Banks. Still no word on what has happened to the children, especially the child of Banks and the victim.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Will the "Slumlord" inspection finally start?

It's been almost a year since voters overwhelmingly passed the slum landlord law. Since then, it has been fairly quiet regarding the law and what the council will do to put it on the books. Well, the waiting may have finally come to the end. It looks like the new law will be presented to the City Council at its next meeting.

It seems like its going to be a fairly involved process to actually investigate the inside of some of these slum properties. Permission must either be granted to inspect the property or the order must be obtained from the judget in the form of a warrent. These types of safe guards will hopefully prevent abuse from making its want into the process, but will also allow Mesa to do something about some of the rental properties that have fallen into disrepair.

This issue is needed more now than ever. The economy has taken its toll on everyone, and more places are lying vacant, reduced for quick sale, or occupied by tenants paying significantly less rent. Cashflow issues could lead to delay in repairs, which could lead to long-term damage and overall reduction in quality. Let's hope Mesa's employees can use this efficiently and effectively to battle these negative possibilities.

Important information through Twitter

Not that many years ago, it was difficult for parents to find out what was going on at school. They either had to call up the front desk, hope for some sort of newsletter, or check the local marquee to see what is going on. Now, you can log into a teacher's website, check your kid's grades online, get regular email updates, and the list goes on and on.

For those who want even more information, School Districts are experimenting with twitter as another way to get out information. We here at Mesa Issues have been using twitter for awhile now, and we are proud of our work on integrating "Twitter Friday," but it will be interesting to see how this type of information will do within the sea of randomness that is the average twitter feed.

Mesa Public schools has been one to take up this charge ( For the most part, the feed is filled with district announcements - anything from tutors needed to news releases. They haven't been updating it all that frequently, but it will be something to watch as the new school year starts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

You've heard of followfriday! It's time to add Mesa Issues' Twitter Friday to the lexicon. Tune into our Twitter page for another edition of Mesa Issues rewind. That and more as part of 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, August 20, 2009

Cruising returns to Mesa

Cruising returns to Mesa this Saturday night. A long-time tradition that had been snuffed out of Mesa in more recent decades has made a resurgence in popularity as the folks who used to "cruise" in the 60's and 70's want to share the old custom with their kids and grandkids.

Expect some hot cars and some good times downtown, and, despite police encouragement otherwise, maybe a burnout or two. Safe driving is always a must, of course, but let's hope that the police aren't too out of hand keeping things under control. One commenter on the story tells of a bad experience that he had the last time he came to Mesa. Thankfully, he is coming back, but most of the time, events like these don't get a second shot.

Everyone who attends should remember that they are an ambassador of Mesa, and its downtown area. If we want downtown to be a destination that people visit with greater frequency, we have to show them that not only is the area filled with neat places, it's filled with cool people as well. So, put on that smile, dust off that leather jacket (or not since it will probably be 100 degrees), hop in the car and join in the fun this weekend.

Business is picking up bit by bit

Like we said earlier this week, any business is good business in Mesa right now, especially if its creating jobs and generating revenue. Great news from a local Mesa start-up who won a big contract to create helicopter parts.

They are looking to add about 50 more local employees over the next year to manage the needs of this new contract. Despite all of the grumblings about NAFTA, one would have to assume that this type of organization is only around because of those changes made.

It is truly an international operation - started in Canada and on the Canadian Stock exchange, they have their offices in Mesa and their foundry Mexico. Currently, they are contracting with other businesses for the machine work, but they may start their own machine division as well. Now, if only we could get them to bring up their 25 jobs in Nogales, Mexico to add to the mix as well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sales tax revenues 13% short

Sales tax revenues around the valley are tanking worse than expected. In Mesa, the taxes were 13% or almost $1.5 million off of what was anticipated. It looks like the city has planned for some little bumps in the road like this, but if it continues, we'll have to expect even more cuts.

The Mayor is right, we haven't hit the bottom yet. Without a state budget, a spending spree going on in Washington, and people losing their jobs left and right, our economy is in chaos and it will not be fixed anytime soon. All we can hope is that we are able to hold on, and make incremental steps towards sending Mesa in the right direction.

In being a leader in doing more with less, Mesa can actually make up some ground that has been lost in the past few years, so that when things do start to recover, they can be at the front of the curve. As we have said before, Gateway has the potential to lead the way in the next couple of years, and ten years from now, we can be looking at Mesa as a regional and national leader just like it was years ago.

Part of that, however, is going to require Mesa to move away from its dependence on sales tax. Just as this latest dip shows, it is not a long-term source of viable revenue. Mesa must diversify if it wants to limit its swings with the local economy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Mesa Twitterers

A couple months ago, we talked about Mesa's growing twitter force. Since then, there have been a few other people to throw into the mix. Here are a few folks that you should follow if you aren't following them already:

@VisitMesaPR is a great team mate to the ever busy @VisitMesa, who is still leader of the twitter pack. The more business oriented approach does a great job promoting what's new in Mesa.

@HiltonMesa mixes promotions, food discussions, and generous amounts of gratitude for follow fridays and other mentions. They are also not afraid to discuss other topics that add to the communication, but for the most part they are dedicated to trying to tempt you into staying at the hotel.

@phxmesagateway is a great source for all of the Gateway news including stuff that you may not see in other places. As the airport grows, let's hope that they continue to integrate twitter as part of their overall communications and customer relations platform.

@ExurbanJon is a Mesa resident and one of the authors of Exurban League, which is a great conservative blog about national and local issues. His tweets are usually very funny and rich with Obama goodness.

@Bullhornguy is an enigma. He is on this list because it says his location is Mesa. He started off solid and now hasn't been heard from in over two weeks. We hope he is okay, because we have to admit that we are sort of fascinated with what he was doing.

Any business is good

According to the Tribune, customers like the idea of a Dillards outlet. Compared to an empty storefront, one would assume that everyone would agree. However, it is still not quite as desirable as a full Dillards. Discount venues are great for bargains, but they don't help the image of the mall very much (especially with the new indoor "swap meet" across the street).

However, in this current economy, something is better than nothing and discount businesses are the hot commodity right now. So, we should all probably stick to the mantra that any business is good.

For example, a new lead generation business has opened in Mesa. Is it a major employer? Probably not, but hey, new businesses opening their doors and coming to town is welcome news from the daily reports of businesses that are closing up shop.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's with all the hate in the Police Chief article?

Have you looked at the comment section of the Trib's story about hiring a national firm to recruit top prospects for Police Chief? There is a lot of animosity out there for an action which is actually pretty smart to make sure that Mesa gets the best, most qualified candidate out there.

One of the most troubling parts is how much religion and racism are being played up as part of the discussion. Mormon-bashing is nothing new, but it usually has a disasterous result. Linking ethnicity to Mesa's crime problems is also a shallow and thoughtless maneuver.

Why don't we stick to the issue at hand? If your outrage is over the taxpayer cost of the search, where were you during the Fiesta District debacle? If you think Mesa is against latinos, where were you to defend Gascon when he was being crtiticized for his unauthorized trip?

Gascon started this city in the right direction, and it is up to our city leaders to find the best person to replace him and continue helping Mesa down the right path. Crime is down, we need to find the right person to make sure it stays that way. Having a professional search is part of what it takes for Mesa to grow up and start acting like a big city. Now, if only the commenters could do the same.

East Valley Republicans should take note

We have been talking for awhile now about how the Democrats are ramping up to take a run and making some inroads into the East Valley. With a 14 to 1 ratio of Republicans to Democrats, the East Valley remains steadfastly Republican, something that Democrats may be looking to change.

The current state budget could end up being a turning point for this legislature and for the East Valley legislators. Eye on the 9th Floor has an interesting break down on how this budget stalemate could play out for all of those involved. Since the East Valley is vastly Republican, we'll focus on that section:

The Republicans

The Republicans hold the majority of both the House and the Senate. In theory, they should have the best chance of getting things done. However, fights over revenue, cuts, and the depth of the current budget problem have lead to a battle of ideologies. The Governor has held steadfast to her desire for a sales tax referral, which has since been tempered by a net tax cut by the leaders in the House, yet a referral is still completely unpalatable to some of the most conservative members in the Senate.

How they Win: It seems simple enough, but Republicans win if they can figure out a way to get a budget passed. The protracted session will be something that they will have to overcome, but getting something done now, will give them time to recover. If they pass the referral, they can campaign against the initiative, if they choose, and still get credit for allowing the voters to decide. If they can find a way to pass a budget without a referral, it will be claimed as a greater victory for the far-right conservatives, but it would be tempered by the further cuts that would need to be made later in the year. The Republicans need to prove that they can lead coming out of this budget process.

How they Lose: Imagine this scenario – the budget negotiations drag on for several more weeks with even more bitter Republican on Republican rancor. The Governor turns to the Democrats for negotiations, a move that further angers the far-right, prompting a potential candidate such as Treasurer Dean Martin to throw his hat in the Republican primary. Martin, who is in the same position as Goddard where he can comment, but doesn’t need to actually offer up a solution, proceeds to criticize the Governor and any Republicans willing to negotiate with her, creating even more tension in the legislature. The final result is a disaster for Republicans, resulting in a cobbled together budget reminiscent of Napolitano where the Democrats control the negotiations with a couple of Republicans from swing districts who must desperately avoid dramatic cuts. Any Republicans willing to negotiate would face the same criticisms and attacks in the Primary as those who voted for Napolitano’s budget next time around, and the others who don’t support the budget face the question of if they can lead.

We asked Pearce, Adams and others to allow the voters of Mesa to decide their own fate. To their credit, the East Valley Legislators did just that. They were going to allow the voters to choose for themselves, even though many of them said they would personally vote against the temporary sales tax if it were to make the ballot.

East Valley Republicans should take note that the unfortunate fact is that even though the they have done the right thing, they did not get enough support to move the comprehensive package forward. As long as the Democrats are allowed to sit on the sidelines and position themselves for the future, the Republicans are going to be the ones left taking the blame.

Obama in town again

With President Obama in town again, it brings up two quick thoughts:

1. How can you even remotely deny that the Democrats have Arizona in their plans for 2012?

2. Obama should still look to Mesa as a solid blueprint for economic recovery. Let's figure out a way to make Government more efficient before anyone tries to grow it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

It's time for another edition of Mesa Issues rewind. That and more as part of 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, August 13, 2009

Gateway Area Accelerated?

Mesa, ASU and a group called the Greater Phoenix Economic Council announced the formation of something called a "business accelerator" to be located in the Gateway area. While the details are slim at this point, it sounds like the effort is going to attract private and public researchers to the Gateway area to research and explore new technologies.

They are still in the business plan stage, which is going to be headed up by Councilman Scott Somers. Coming off his landslide Gaylord election victory, this could be yet another major victory for Somers to place in his cap. There also appears to be some opportunities to work with the recently formed Arizona Aerospace Institute to help move both projects forward.

This is yet another step for Mesa in becoming the "silicon valley" of aerospace technology. What makes it even more impressive is that it is being done in the current economy. The process might be slow at this point, but they are definitely aimed in the right direction.

More on Malls

So Fiesta Mall isn't the only one hurting, malls across the southeast valley are looking for creative ways to fill vacant storefronts. It sounds like a creative way to fill the space, while giving local merchants an opportunity to sell their wares in a space that they may not otherwise be able to afford.

It is also an interesting way to add a level of diversity to the shops found in a mall. Anywhere in the US, you generally find the same conglomeration of stores, just arranged differently. If some of the local malls can offer up creative and interesting destinations, they can attract people to shop in their mall instead of some other one that they normally go to. Finding an attractive niche is a great way to stay competitive.

On the other hand, the malls have to be careful that they don't become the next stage in swap meets, and must do whatever they can to avoid the monicker of "ghetto mall." Remember Tri-City in its final days as a "mall?" It had very few name brand stores and some that didn't even look safe to enter. Even the old reliable movie theater bit the dust.

As malls find ways to be relevant in the changing market, they must walk the fine line between creatively reaching out to local merchants, and becoming a glorified garage sale.

National search begins for new police chief

Have ten years of law enforcement experience and want to take a polygraph test? You too can apply to be Mesa's police chief. Mesa has begun their national search to replace Chief Gascon, who high tailed it to San Francisco just weeks before his dream job in L.A. opened up. It's good that Mesa is opening up the job, that way we can make sure that we have the best candidates possible.

Three of the assistant chiefs have applied for the job and don't be surprised if other local candidates come out of the woodwork for the chance to replace Gascon. Don't bet on Mesa hiring an immigration hardliner, but don't be surprised if there is a push from some to go in that direction.

Although it would be great to attract another groundbreaking "rockstar" type of the law enforcement community, it's more likely that the city will gravitate towards someone who is likely to stay for awhile.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arpaio's antics wastes even more money for taxpayers

Did you know that Mesa has to pay nearly $6 million a year to book and house inmates in Sheriff Arpaio's jails when in fact there is supposed to be state money to cover it? Even more, did you know that the Sheriff takes Mesa's money to operates the jails and uses the state money left over to send his lackeys on trips and staying in swanky hotels?

Not only did they increase the costs to house the inmates, but the Sheriff also shut down regional detention centers where Mesa PD and other East Valley cities were able to jail their detainees. Now, they have to take the people all the way downtown, costing more gas, vehicle wear and tear, employee time. Not only that, but it means there are even fewer officers on the streets during that time.

How does the Sheriff continue to get away with wasting so much money? I know there are so many people who like him, most of which are conservatives? How do they rationalize their love with the sheriff with his complete disregard for the law and his penchant for spending money like a drunken sailor? There is only so much green bologna to cover up this growing problem.

Welcome Nearby News

Cool new blog by the folks who do the Groves, the View and the North Gilbert breeze. We have added them to our must read list. For now, it looks like it is basically collecting the stories of the day from other news sources, but it has the potential to be a great source for local news. Let's hope they build on the potential and see their blog as the extension of their local papers.

Conversation with the Community

What a breath of fresh air! A mayor who actually wants to hear from the people of Mesa. Mayor Smith is hosting two upcoming conversations with the community (Republic version), one for the west side at the Mesa Arts Center and one for the east at MCC Red Mountain.

Between this and actually getting things done, maybe this Mayor won't hightail it to Gilbert when he is out of office.

With the budget struggle somewhat behind us, now is a great time for the Mayor to step forward and see what the people want for the future of our city. Town-halls have become the rage as of late, but we predict that there will be significantly less rowdy behavior at these events. Although, we predict that the Mayor will have to field a few questions about healthcare, Obama, and any of the other national problems we face.

Having more contact with the citizens is never a bad thing, and it is especially welcomed when there is clearly no ulterior motive for his appearance. Combined with his endless positive attitude for the Fiesta District (despite recent set-backs), the Mayor continues to be a spark plug for his "building a better Mesa."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Paz de Cristo facing trouble

Right when they are likely needed the most, Paz de Cristo is now facing a $300,000 shortfall after St. Timothy's Catholic Church has opted not to continue their sponsorship of the homeless outreach center. While this is sad news, you shouldn't blame the church, everyone is facing difficult revenues, and sometimes that means hard choices. The dwindling donations seem to be a problem facing most churches right now.

This twenty year fixture in the community has impacted countless lives, not only those who have been served by the program, but the countless volunteers who have done the serving. It's difficult to find anyone who has lived in Mesa for any extended period of time who hasn't either done some volunteer work at Paz de Cristo or knows someone who has. It has been part of the community for so long, that it is sort of strange to think of it going away. Under the current scenario, the shelter will only be able to stay open another 4 to 5 months before they will either need to find private donors or shut their doors.

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, you can click here to donate to the shelter, or contact them for more information.

AzCentral always does well with prep sports

With even more changes coming to the Arizona Republic, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the large news sources are eventually going by the wayside. Obviously, as a business model, it has its share of problems.

However, the tragic loss will be the prep coverage which has been impressive over the past few years. For example, they have a preview for each of the local football teams:

HS football preview: Desert Vista Thunder
HS football preview: Mountain View Toros
HS football preview: Hamilton Huskies
HS football preview: Mountain Pointe Pride
HS football preview: Dobson Mustangs
HS football preview: Highland Hawks
HS football preview: Corona del Sol Aztecs
HS football preview: Apache Junction Prospectors
HS football preview: Desert Ridge Jaguars
HS football preview: Chandler Wolves

Sure, there will probably be blogs with prep previews and other ways to get this information, but this type of service is something that isn't done as well anywhere else.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Twitter Friday

Are you ready for the Mesa Issues rewind? It will be part of 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, August 6, 2009

Fiesta Dillards "changing" but not closing

Despite rumors that Dillards at Fiesta Mall was closing completely, the actual news is that the store will be "changing," according to the corporate headquartes. To what? Who knows, but they say it is not going to be a traditional Dillards anymore.

Our guess will be that it will become some sort of outlet store, or perhaps they will convert the bottom floor to some sort of Dillards "light" and lease off the top floor to some other retailer. Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, this is bad news during a time when it seems like the Fiesta District is full of nothing but bad news.

There is still hope for the Fiesta District, but things may get worse before they get better.

Just Deserts for Gascon

This came across our twitter earlier today and several people have emailed us about it as well. Los Angeles' Chief of Police is going to step down. It looks like former Mesa Police Chief George Gascon's dream job became available just weeks after ditching Mesa for San Francisco.

We wonder if he is sitting in his new office in fancy San Francisco banging his head against his desk wondering why he couldn't have held out a few more weeks. I hope his fancy stripes and epaulets don't get stained with tears. Surely a few more weeks of Arpaio would have been worth getting his dream job, instead of now spending his time in a sanctuary city where the city and the board controlling the police don't get along.

Gascon will still be remembered as a positive influence in reducing crime in Mesa, but his ego and the fact that he couldn't help but give a parting shot make this news oh so sweet. We wish him good luck in his new endeavor, but that isn't going to stop us from relishing in the fact that he got what was coming to him.

Here's hoping that VBO stays in Gilbert

Remember Valley Business Owners (and concerned citizens)? They are the ones who have been causing trouble in Mesa for awhile, taking on everything from the smoking ban to Riverview and everything in between (more recently, they were pro-Waveyard, but anti-bond). They are also the reason why Mesa has to vote on any sort of facility that costs more than $1.5 million.

Well, the good news is, instead of attacking Mesa, they are off causing trouble in Gilbert. They are going against Gilbert's recent sales tax hike, gathering petitions looking to cause, you guessed it, an election. The hilarious part is that they have no idea how many people are part of their organization. If they ever called a meeting of the organization, would they even know who to invite? Anything coming from VBO always seems to come from the same 3 or 4 people, which doesn't really seem to be a very big swath of business owners from across the valley.

It looks like the main folks have all pretty much moved to Gilbert, so hopefully, they will spend more time causing trouble down there. However, this is more of an issue for "Gilbert Issues" if anyone else gets that started.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Congratulations to Mesa Public Schools

Not only are 26 Mesa Public Schools "excelling," but not a single one is "failing." Only McKellips learning center is considered underperforming. This is great news for the largest school district in the state, showing that there still truly is no better place to learn.

As MPS cuts budgets and prepares to do more with less, let's hope that they are able to keep up their performance delivering quality education and working with parents, teachers, administrators and students. It is going to take a group effort and a commitment on all levels to get the most out of the education dollars available.

Expanding and specializing to compete with charter schools is potentially a step in the right direction, if it is done cautiously and does not take focus from delivering a traditional curriculum. It's a tough time to be in the school district business, but we should give credit where credit is due.

Seeing both sides of the story

Milk has been cheap and in abundance lately, with prices dipping as low as 99 cents a gallon. While consumers rejoice in the affordability, local dairy producers are unable to make ends meet when the milk costs nearly $1.40 a gallon to produce. Since most of the milk is branded either by Shamrock or by the stores themselves, it's often easy to forget that the milk we drink is produced locally.

Not that many years ago, the heart of Mesa was covered by dairy farms and orange orchards. Mountain View used to be nicknamed "Mountain P.U." because of the smell of the surrounding diary farms. As Mesa has grown and developed, the farms have moved out of the center of our growing city, but still many remain in the outskirts, where some of the land is still "country" in comparison to Mesa's big city.

These farms create jobs and contribute to the local economy. However, the stable price in Milk combined with the rising government addiction to corn-based fuel has made the cost of running a dairy expensive. As these farms die off, not only are we losing a piece of Mesa's history, but we could be facing a milk shortage in the not-so distant future. Do they deserve a bailout? Not really, but this is a valuable lesson on how the actions of the government can have many unintended consequences.

Expert Advice for the Fiesta District

This is something we mentioned during Twitter Friday, but it's worthy of a full post:

At a recent conference of Mayors from across the country, Mayor Scott Smith was given the chance to bring one of Mesa's biggest problems, the Fiesta District, to a panel of 10 planning and urban design experts. Too bad this opportunity wasn't available a year ago before dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on a plan and a very creatively named "Fiesta District."

The planners were able to come up with a flurry of ideas, which of course, all cost money. In all likelihood, a complete transformation of the area will require some public dollars to go along with a large investment of private dollars. However, with two access points to the freeway, a hospital, the largest community college in the system, a regional mall and a lot of space, the place clearly has a lot of potential.

The solution is not going to be done through forcing others to act or the city wielding the power of eminent domain. It's going to be done through collaboration and a commitment to the best possible product to attract people not only from throughout Mesa, but throughout the region. A unique "sense of place" is going to be important, but it can't be something else we have in town. The Fiesta District can't strive to be like Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix. Uniqueness is a plus.

People know the Mall of America and the San Antionio Riverwalk because they are unique. As a result, they have national recognition. In time, the Fiesta District and Mesa in general could achieve this same goal.

ETA: The long-term future of the District will not longer include Aquaterra. The condo/hotel plan has tanked as the developer has filed for bankruptcy. What started with a bang, has left with a wimper and in its place, the new plan calls for "luxury" apartments for Seniors. The Mimi's cafe must be excited, but the rest of the district should be feeling let down. More apartments is not what this area needs at the moment.