Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Smith to Valley: Back off on the Cubs

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

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

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

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

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

Freshmen may return to Mesa High Schools

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Power of Twitter - Cubs Update

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

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

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

Mesa Police Chief position gathers a lot of interest

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cubs and Mesa: A History

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

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

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

Mesa: DC Darling

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

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

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

Friday, September 25, 2009

Follow @MesaIssues - Twitter Friday

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

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good news for Gaylord Mesa?

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

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

Will anyone back the Sheriff in his Stapley witchhunt?

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

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

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

Report Copper Theft

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making Mesa a "high point"

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do it for the children!

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

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

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

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

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

Mesa gets tough on massage laws

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

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

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

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sheriff Joe's enemies list

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

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

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

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

Dobson Ranch Tragedy

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

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

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

Follow @MesaIssues - Twitter Friday

Talking about Mesa 140 characters at a time. Tune into our Twitter page for Twitter Friday at Mesa issues, including another edition of Mesa Issues rewind.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Now is not the time for concerns about first impressions

Extra, extra, read all about it. The Loop 202 - Red Mountain as it enters into Mesa isn't all that pretty. There is a lot of industrial in the area, not to mention the mine and the river bottom. The article goes through all of this in painstaking detail for some unknown purpose.

Now is not the time to start complaining about first impressions or pointing out even more of Mesa's shortfalls. Talking ill about Mesa isn't all that great, especially the day after the Mayor explained how we are going to need a new stadium to keep the Cubs. Do you think that perhaps a few people out of Chicago went on to try to learn a little more about Mesa after meeting with the Mayor? What do you think they thought when they saw an article talking about how ugliness of Mesa's freeways.

As the economy continues to struggle along, it is easy to let that negative attitude that used to pervade Mesa to come back. First, it's little "only in Mesa" comments, next it's "Mesa's freeways are ugly because they're cheap" and it just snowballs from there. We have to address problems as they come up, but why make more just for sport?

How was this article even newsworthy?

Could we get a positive cartoon once in awhile?

For the most part, we have been enjoying the editorial cartoons by Mark Ishikawa in the Republic. His drawing style reminds us of the "The Far Side" and having cartoons on local issues makes it so much more personal. However, we do have one request for Mark - could we get a positive cartoon once in awhile?

Even Benson draws a nice one occassionally. We have a lot of positive things going on in Mesa, and it would be nice to point them out every now and then.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick Hits

Falcon Field neighbors file complaints. Planes landing sometimes can be noisy. It is worth the economic value that the airport brings to the city. Both runways should be used to maintain efficiency and get the most out of the facility and the neighbors knew about the airport when they moved there.

Group still trying to save the Train. Who knew that they were still around? It doesn't look like anything has changed since April, but now they have a few more fundraisers planned. Is Mesa going to let this go on indefinately? In the meantime, is the train safe to the public? If the train is allowed to sit as is, asbestos and all, indefinitely, is there really a problem in the first place?

Less than public Waveyard miffed at private meeting. Waveyard was probably happy with the outcome, but we find it ironic that they were surprised when Mesa wanted to discuss the issue in private instead of in the public. After all, Waveyard has been so public with their plans and communicating with the citizens of Mesa who voted to allow their project.

Commenters don't seem to get economic impact of Cubs. Some people don't seem to realize that the Cubs are above and beyond as the top draw of Spring Training across the Valley. These commenters want to wish the Cubs "good riddance," but they don't realize how much of a terrible impact it would have on the rest of the league. Support the Keep the Cubs effort.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr. Smith goes to Chicago - Cubs Update

Mayor Smith is in Chicago this week with Speaker Kirk Adams and others to meet with the Cubs and discuss their spring training future. After their first meeting today, Mayor Smith believes that it is going to take a new stadium to keep the Cubs in Mesa, otherwise there is a real "threat" that we will lose them to Florida.

Well, there you have it. At least it is all out on the table now. The Cubs haven't asked for the stadium, but you could bet that it was only a matter of time before they did. Or even more interesting, they may never step forward demanding a new stadium, because they don't have to be the "greedy owner" demanding a new place to play. It just so happens that Florida's offer would likely contain a new stadium, and thus, unless Mesa matches, it is going to be a superior offer.

Either way, you have to hand it to Mayor Smith for trying to get ahead of the game and laying all of the cards on the table. Of course, this is a make or break issue for him, so it's wise for him to not leave this in the hands of someone else. So, now we move beyond the speculation phase into a reality phase.

What realistically can be done? Keep the Cubs is reporting that the D-Backs facility is already getting costly. Is $70-80 million a realistic number for a new facility? Where will it be located? Will there be shopping and restaurants nearby? We'll keep following this issue as it develops. In the meantime, check out Keep the Cubs to join their movement.

Waveyard gets 18 more months

Mesa City Council has granted Waveyard 18 more months. If you recall, Waveyard wanted 2 more years because of the downturn in the market. As we said before, this really doesn't impact Mesa much, since they retain the ownership of the land and have no financial stake in the project.

We originally called for a 6 month extension, Mesa appears to be a little more generous, offering 18. We still believe that the site would be a prime location for a Spring Training facility, but it looks like Mesa must have other plans in mind.

Meanwhile, would it kill Waveyard to let us know what is going on in awhile? It appears that some of the architecture has changed:

Apparently, people are white water rafting in Morroco or the lost island of Atlantis. That, however, is not really the point. The project, as far as we can tell, still looks very fun and exciting. That remains about as far as our knowledge goes on the project.

We heard from them when they needed our vote, but now they are nowhere to be found. It would be helpful for them to keep us in the loop with what is going on, instead of only popping up their head when they need something.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Follow @MesaIssues - Twitter Friday

You have to admit it, Twitter Friday is fun. Tune into our Twitter page for another edition of Mesa Issues rewind.

The blogging today will be micro-style via our twitter page @MesaIssues.

Check us out at We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Gaylord expects 12 million visitors

Gary Nelson has a great story about the new Gaylord National outside of Washington DC. They are doing well despite the down economy and are expected to attract over 12 million visitors this year. Read that again, 12 million visitors to the Maryland suburb.

That is the kind of exciting news that should keep the people in Mesa excited for the Gaylord coming out to the Gateway area. Yes, it might take a little more time than was expected, but it will be more than worth the wait. Let's also not forget that it is a billion dollars in local investment.

Imagine what 12 million visitors would mean for Mesa's local economy. It is true that we must continue to diversify our economy, becoming less dependent on sales tax dollars, but we also have to balance that out with harnessing Arizona's tourism opportunities and converting them into local dollars. The "T" in HEAT is tourism, afterall.

More flowrider action

After our post on the flowrider yesterday, a reader emailed us this cool video of famous skateboarder Tony Hawk and others doing tricks on a flowrider. It will be interesting to see what kids in Mesa can come up with.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Superstition Vistas Scenarios

The people working towards putting together some sort of plan for the enormous Superstition Vistas east of the valley held a widely attended "Scenario" meeting last night. While the timing may not be all that great (thousands of foreclosed homes around the valley is probably not a big selling point for expanded development), thinking about long-term planning for the area is essential to prevent it from being developed one chunk at a time over the next 20 to 50 years.

The Republic has gotten all bloggy again, and so now we are getting a little insight from Gary Nelson in addition to his regular columns. In his latest post, Nelson hits it on the head, saying that this type of planning isn't about the resources or people, but rather the type of "place" this area would be if it were to be developed.

In this day and age, this is an important question, and has been a driving force for this new level of quality planning and development. For example, in the Gateway area, intelligent planning and a vision for the future has laid the groundwork for the location to be the next up and coming economic engine. Gone are the days of subdivisions and stripmalls defining our growth and people just driving until they can afford a home.

The people who are just plain anti-growth should try to be part of the solution instead of just complaining about the potential future of the desert. Having some vision and taking part in process is going to yield much better results over standing on the outside, giving no input and then complaining about the results.

All my friends want a flowrider...

Sorry to borrow from the "War" song, but it always comes up whenever there is discussion about the flowrider at the newly renovated Rhodes Junior High pool which opens this Saturday. When the whole controversy went down, we weren't exactly sure what type of attraction was involved. Now that we have seen it, we have to admit that it does look pretty cool.

Saturday is going to be the real test. Like we said before, let's hope the residents in the area actually use this attraction so that no one will have to second guess the decision.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ho ho ha ha hee he ha ha

Make sure you check out the Mesa Historical Museum's Wallace and Ladmo exhibit between now and December. Wallace and Ladmo, a staple of children's television out here for 35 years, is unique piece of Arizona history. Did you always want to win a Ladmo bag and never have the chance? Well, make sure you check out the exhibit where you can sign up to meet Wallace and you can even win your very own Ladmo Bag... with original hostess cupcakes still inside (just kidding).

From their visits to Tri-City Mall to their appearances at the state fair, Wallace and Ladmo were the top local celebrities long before Alice Copper and the rest. It was the dream of every Cub Scout and Girl Scout to be selected to be up on that stage and get to say your name for everyone out there in TV land. Make sure you take your kids out there and share with them something from your childhood.

Courts moving December 1st

The Criminal Courts are leaving Mesa for Phoenix starting December 1st. Looks like any efforts to keep the courts open locally have oficially stalled. What we don't quite understand is why the move is taking place now when the new tower won't be open until 2012. How much money will be really saved by moving the courts 3 years early? Is that operation costs or is that money being put right into building the court building?

It should also be noted that the sherriff closed to the Mesa jails a couple of years back, although having local jails was part of what got the bonds for the jails passed in the first place.

While all of these moves are designed to save Maricopa County money, they are more than likely going to cost the local cities more, not to mention the residents who now have to drive downtown for jury duty.