Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today is Election Day and it is critical that you make sure your voice is heard in this election. Here in Mesa, Proposition 420 is essential to keeping the Cubs in Mesa. Cubs bring in tourists, revenue, and have been part of Mesa tradition for decades. We can't afford to lose the Cubs to Florida or somewhere else in the valley. Make sure you get out and vote.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More details and renderings of Cubs in Mesa plan

The Cubs have released their concepts of what the stadium would look like on the Riverview location. That topic, of course, has not been finalized yet, but you can see that the renderings are pretty amazing.
You can see the images and learn more at their website. The article has a lot more details about the project including the financial caps and where the money is coming from.

There have been some dicsussions about if Riverview is the best site or if somewhere else in East Mesa is preferable.

East Mesa proponents point to the potential of more money being spent in Mesa - what they fail to point out is the opposition in the Red Mountain area and the lack of development in the Gaylord area. We have been a fan of this concept in the past, but expect a free standing stadium in the middle of nowhere like Glendale and Goodyear for awhile.

Riverview is indeed closer to Tempe and Scottsdale. It is however, closer to Mesa retail than Hohokam ever was with development across the street in Mesa Riverview shopping center.

To be sure, there are pros and cons to both locations, but the Wrigleyville West concept is something that will be attractive in either locations. In reality, the best part about both of these sites is that they are in Mesa. It is critical that we keep the team in town. The details beyond that should be discussed with great interest, but we must be mindful of the ultimate goal here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cubs deal capped at $99 million

Mesa announced the more details surrounding the Cubs deal today including the announcement that the project hosts are hard capped at $99 million to the City. This announcement comes as more people were seeking details about the plan as early voting approaches.

Mesa and the Cubs revealed a term sheet explaining some of the main tenets of the deal including a $84 million for the facility and $15 million in infrastructure and park improvements making the total deal around $99 million - far less than the critics have been shouting from the rooftops.

Speaking of critics, the VBO has reared their ugly head saying that they oppose the deal (what else is new). Last year, we hailed their move to Gilbert, saying good riddance. Too bad they didn't stay gone. Ironically, they are complaining about Mesa's ballot language, which is written in accordance with the law that they wrote. Again, they are the reason why we must have an election every time the City has a project - which creates another step standing in the way of those who want to invest in our city.

Also, some more detail on the funding, which will come from the enterprise fund and the sale of land in Pinal County. This has nothing to do with the General fund. These details will be helpful in the last few weeks of the election to help assure voters that this isn't just a blank check.

This is a critical election to make sure that we are able to keep the Cubs in Mesa long term. Without the Cubs, what would Mesa have?

The Race for Congressional District 5

A little over a year ago, everything was looking great for the Democrats. At the time, we wondered if the Democrats were taking aim at Mesa to try to expand their influence. We also discussed how the frequent visits from the President and his cabinet could be seen as an attempt to appeal to Mesa or at the very least, give support to Congressman Harry Mitchell.

Now, a mere month prior to the election, it doesn't look like all the favors have made a lick of difference. In fact, with Obama's mounting unpopularity, it might even be part of what is reflecting poorly on Mitchell.

Its no secret that Harry Mitchell is in the fight of his life - and though he was given some flexibility to satisfy his conservative district, his votes on healthcare, the stimulus, and the bailouts may spell doom for him.

We have heard the phrase "enthusiasm gap" repeated time and again, but the reality is that its more like an enthusiasm canyon. We receive a lot of email from all over the East Valley and its difficult to tell how many tea parties there are, but we can say with certainty that there are far more tea party groups than democrat clubs. Mitchell's upset of Hayworth required Republicans who were sick of JD to cross the aisle. In this current environment, we don't see that happening.

Civic duty

Sorry Mayor Smith, but you can't get out of jury duty. Not that you don't deserve to - we very much appreciate your civic pariticpation, but the jury process is fairly set. He's right that they will probably let him go once he goes down there, but it is good to see that he is not above doing what he is supposed to do and let the process work.

In this day and age, elitism has crept into our elected officials (see President Obama), and they tend to forget that they are elected by the people and should live to the same standards as everyone else. Perhaps the President wouldn't be facing such mounting criticism if he followed the lead of local leaders. We also think that he would have been wise to follow Mesa's lead on balancing the budget instead of going down the road of overspending.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sticking its nose in Mesa's business

The Goldwater Institute has, once again, stuck its nose into Mesa's business. This time they expressed concerns over the deal to keep the Cubs in Mesa.

When was the last time Goldwater Institute was actually for something? As much as conservatives claim to hate "big brother," the GI is about as close as you can come to a nanny organization trying to tell everyone what they can and can't do. They don't care about Mesa or Arizona really for that matter. Otherwise, they would try to be proactive in their policies instead of complaining about everything and suing when something doesn't go their way. Goldwater Institute is more like a law firm than a policy think tank.

At least their distribe was juxtaposed with a response from the Mesa Chamber, who, you know, actually represents Mesa businesses. The Chamber sets the record straight on the misinformation out there and discusses the financial benefits of the project. Most importantly, they actually realize that the Cubs are critical to Mesa's economy and long term economic growth, something that the naysayers seem to ignore.

In the end, we're prone to stick with the people from Mesa who actually care about this town over those professional naysayers who would almost rather sue someone over actually participating in a thoughtful policy discussion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cubs Update

Chicago Cubs fans are in for a treat as the Yes on 420 committee brings Ron Santo into town on Saturday, October 9th. Santo is a beloved Cubbie and one that many think should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Also, it looks like Cubs Team Chairman Tom Ricketts was in town to speak to the Rotary club. They don't appear too sure if a Cubs - Waveyard plan can work, but they are looking into it. Regardless, here is the key from the article:

"The stadium will cost $84 million, and the Ricketts family plans to invest additional money on a privately funded entertainment complex dubbed Wrigleyville West. The team will focus initially on the baseball components of the development and then start working on the entertainment portion, Ricketts said."

Unlike other ballparks across the valley, this plan has a built in retail component that is a successful concept and will be actually backed by the team. This is a smart investment to keep the Cubs in town and maximize revenue.

Gateway growth barriers

Just a day after we talked about Allegiant making great strides to improve business in the East Valley, we see this warning that Gateway needs some changes to continue to improve its image and customer experience.

The question remains, do you make the upgrades in hopes that it will attract more people or do you wait for more people to help rationalize the upgrades? Everyone recognizes that Gateway isn't Sky Harbor, but if they want to be a seen as a serious alternative, some of the improvements will be necessary.

Throughout the country, certain airports are often avoided because of their customer service problems, overall cleanliness or general layout. Gateway has a unique opportunity to be a solid mix of convenience, value, and simplicity. Its a model that Southwest airlines has done as a carrier, and Gateway could follow as an airport.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More on Cubs and Waveyard

The head of the Mesa CVB seems to think that the Cubs and Waveyard could share the site at Riverview. There has been some intrigue to this point, and he thinks that there would likely be enough land to house both. We're aren't as positive about the idea, but it is something that should be explored.

The result would shed a lot of the different components and leave Waveyard as whitewater rafting river, scuba lagoon and wave pool. It is not clear what other elements, if any, would stay, but it could make some families come and stay in town longer before or after the game. Who knows if it could work, but that is for Mesa, the Cubs, and Waveyard to determine.

One thing that is for certain is that it is critical for the Cubs to stay in Mesa. Our economy depends on sales tax revenues and spring training is a major contributor to keeping the revenue we have for public safety, streets, etc. We can't risk losing the Cubs to Florida or to some other city. So, if Waveyard is part of the equation, fine, but it shouldn't stand in the way of making sure to maximize on the financial impact that the Cubs can generate for Mesa.

Remembering sacrifice

While the war in Iraq might officially be "over," it is important to remember that there are those across the world who continue to fight each day to defend our freedom. Some pay the ultimate price.

Unfortunately, a Mesa soldier was recently killed in Afghanistan. Her story was accompanied by a slide show of Southeast Valley residents who have died in combat. It is important to remember these people and everyone who has served to keep this country safe.

Good news from Allegiant

Allegiant Air will be starting flights from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to Idaho Falls, Idaho starting November 12th. Just as there are many transpants from the midwest in the valley, there are also a lot Mesa residents who hail from the Idaho area.

This news comes a week or so after it was announced that Allegiant was expanding capacity by adding more seats to each plane.

It is good to see that some businesses are expanding and keeping the course in spite of the economy. As we start the economic comeback, we hope that there will be even more good news from the Gateway area and hope that they will be on the leading edge of recovery with businesses like Allegiant leading the way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Waveyard or Not?

It looks like Riverview is the preferred location for the new Cubs facility leaving behind the downtown and the northeast locations. So, now the question remains: what to do about Waveyard?

Earlier this year, it looks like a Waveyard/Cubs project was proposed and rejected, but now it appears to be back on the table. The idea, while intriguing, does raise a lot of questions.

Waveyard was billed as a one of a kind destination unlike anything we have ever seen. Now, we're looking at something that is half the size? What will become of the surfing wavepool, scuba pool, white water rafting, the luxury hotel, condos, dining etc? If the thing can't be built without a ballpark, how are they supposed to get something done in Dubai or elsewhere? What does that do to their current agreement where they were supposed to buy all the land?

Second, where will the Cubs train? Isn't one of the biggest parts of this election about giving the Cubs a competitive training facility? Can that still be done in the smaller space? Can the stadium be big enough to compete with the other west valley stadiums if the land is shared?

It seems like there are two groups here that want to make full use of the land, but might be willing to take half of something over half of nothing. It doesn't hurt to explore this opportunity. However, at the end of the day, it is far more critical to keep the Cubs who are proven over something that still has not been able to get off the ground.

If they can work together, great. If not, Cubs have the far greater chance of success.

Tattoo suit dismissed

Over a year ago, Mesa rejected a tattoo parlor in the Dobson Ranch area. At the time, we discussed that a lawsuit was likely and there was a risk for it to turn into a disaster. It turns out that we were wrong.

The judge has dismissed the lawsuit and it appears that the issue is dead. The formal ruling as not released yet, so its not exactly clear what the judge was thinking, but unlike the Tempe issue, it doesn't appear that the Goldwater Institute or any other litigation-friendly thinktank jumped to the tattoo artist's aid.

Now, over a year and a half later, you have to wonder how much money was lost and if the business owner would have been better off to set up shop elsewhere.

Chinatown in Mesa

We have talked about Mekong Plaza before and how its a model for creative reuse for communities across the state. Now, the people behind that project are taking it a step further by expanding their food court and offering a wide variety of asian dining experiences.

From casual dining to sit down elegance, this looks like another opportunity to create jobs and attract shoppers and diners from other communities to the area. As they have seen it other areas, the result will hopefully attract other businesses and encourage improvement in the surrounding community.

Culture and diversity is something that Mesa has embraced and it can pay long term economic dividends improving our quality of life, increasing variety, and making the city more attractive for businesses looking to relocate.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cubs update

There is a lot of Cubs news from over the past couple of days, so we have compiled it down to one update.

First, in the paper today, the Keep the Cubs committee has an editorial in the Arizona Republic today extolling the virtues of why the Cubs need to stay in Mesa. One of the most exciting pieces they mention is the Wrigleyville West concept. This built in retail plan which would attract visitors similar to the area around Wrigley field in Chicago. While it is easy to get lost in the mire of the site selection, we shouldn't overlook the fact that the development surrounding this project would be far more unique than any other spring training facility in the valley.

Speaking of the site selection, Mesa has released their study about the sites and the potential economic impact they may have. The only challenge is that they tested generic retail because they didn't have any specifics about the project. One could guess the kinds of stores, bars, and shops that would line up for Wrigleyville West, but without details, its hard to tell if they study really tells us anything.

It does, however, create good fodder for those who have their heart set on a specific site. Does downtown work or is it another case of allowing real estate to dictate planning? Does Riverview work or would it oversaturate retail? Does northeast Mesa work or are the neighbors against it? Each site has its challenges, but there is one thing that we must all agree on - regardless of the site, keeping the Cubs in Mesa is critical to Mesa's long-term economy.

Finally, don't forget that the Fergie Jenkins little league clinic is tonight. Here are the details if you are interested.

Building a legacy

You may not think of them as "legacy" projects, but major programs like the Central, Arizona Project, the Salt River Project, the complettion of the I-10, and the creation of the other valley freeways have been critical to the growth and maturation of our community. In the midst of this economic slowdown, eyes have turned to the horizon for the next round of "legacy" projects which could define our economic success for many years to come.

Obviously, $25 billion is not easy to come by, but it is good news that there are already planners with vision of what we want our community to become instead of constantly managing what we already have. From a transportation and infrastructure perspective, it looks like there are some great ideas that could have a lasting impact.

The project that appears to have the most immediate potential would be the I-11 freeway from Phoenix to Las Vegas with connectivity to Salt Lake City and Denver. There are very few ways to get north/south in the mountainous southwest. Though growth has stalled, when it does recover, these cities will be at the forefront once again and these kinds of connections would be greatly beneficial.

The project with the greatest potential impact appears to be the inland port in Phoenix with a connection to a deep water port in Mexico. First, the article explains that the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach are full. Why not allow Arizona to get in on the action? In addition, higher wage jobs at a port in Mexico could help spur opportunities which would potentially help reduce the flow of those fleaing north and entering Arizona illegally.

We're not sure that the high speed rail connections throughout the west would have the same immediate impact (when was the last time some one rode a train), but at least all options are being considered.

The question does remain, how do we find the money to match the vision?

How well do you know Mesa?

Missed this until now, but AZCentral has a fun little quiz about Mesa. We took the quiz, and we'll admit that we missed one about the year the Lehi school was built. Only missing one isn't bad!

Fun little factoids about the Cubs, the Bank of America building, and other Mesa spots. Try this quiz for yourself and find out: How well do you know Mesa?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Keep the Cubs launches website

From Keep the Cubs:

KeeptheCubs.com Now Online

The online home of the campaign to Keep the Cubs in Mesa is now live on the internet at http://www.keepthecubs.com/ , the campaign announced today.

Mesa residents can follow developments in the push to approve Proposition 420 through the site’s sign-up feature that promises alerts on upcoming campaign events and breaking news.

Already, the site features information about a free youth baseball skills clinic hosted by Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins for Mesa kids next Monday, Sept. 13 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Hohokam Park.

The campaign promises more Cubs-themed events where residents can meet Cubs legends and show their support for keeping the Cubs in Mesa for at least another 30 years.

Proposition 420 will be on the November 2nd ballot in Mesa.

Focusing on opportunity over real estate

The Republic has an insightful editorial today about the need to focus on attracting opportunity for its own sake instead of attracting it to fill empty land. Mesa recently launched healthcare and education studies to see how either could be used to fill site 17 in downtown. Ultimately, the results have shown that while Mesa may be able to attract opportunity, there is no guarantee that the downtown site would be the best fit.

They go on to say that focusing on real estate is not the "most effective strategies to woo high-wage jobs Mesa's way." While we agree, sometimes real estate will have to be a factor. Mesa has among the most creative reuses in the valley with Amazing Jakes, Mekong Plaza, and AZ Country USA to name a few.

These may not fit into the "high wage jobs" category, but they do show ways that creative thinking and real estate considerations go hand in hand in creating successful ventures. Thoughtful reuse and the creative incorporation of site 17 may still be in the future for healthcare and education opportunities. They key must be, like the editorial says, a focus on attracting the jobs, not just filling the space.

While their overall premise that Mesa's pursuits of healthcare and education should be more flexibile is spot on, we don't necessarily think that they give Mesa enough credit for being creative in its approach to challenges.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Largest decline in MPS history

Mesa Public Schools saw a sharp decline in enrollment - nearly 3 times what they expected. They have not yet released the school by school analysis, but one would suspect Arizona's immigration law along with the changes Mesa Public Schools made closing schools down and shifting focus of others has likely had an impact on the decline.

With 3,300 students fewer than expected, MPS will likely have to cut $16.5 million from its budget. Now, the question remains, with the falling enrollment, will even more schools be shut down?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finter saves life with CPR

Here is an amazing story of Councilman Alex Finter helping save a woman's life during a ride along. Finter, a former firefighter, jumped in and helped with CPR until the fire department arrived and took over.

Read the story for yourself and if you want, take the time to congratulate Councilman Finter yourself for a job well done.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cubs prefer Riverview

The Chicago Cubs have announced that they prefer the Riverview location for the site of the new stadium. Of course, no site has been selected yet, but one would guess that the proximity to the freeway and the existing infrastructure appear to be attractive when you compare it to the west valley stadiums which have failed so far to attract development.

We have been saying for almost a year that the site would be a prime location for a Spring Training facility. Now the question remains, can they get a deal done? Will Waveyard get out of the way, or do they still insist that they can get financing done?

Don't get us wrong, the Waveyard project is still a great idea on paper, but we are weighing something with potential against something that has a 50 year track record. Which should Mesa have as a priority, a waterpark struggling for financing, or an annual event that consistently makes March Mesa's highest month of revenue.

While there is still much to be decided, voters will also be faced with the decision of approving the financing for a project (no matter the location) on the ballot in November. One again, the 613 rule rears its head. Regardless of where this project ends up, we all must agree that the Cubs are critical to Mesa.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Glover upsets Linoff

In what many would consider an upset, 23 year old newcomer Christopher Glover soundly beat 67 year old Vic Linoff by a margin of nearly 60-40. Glover knocked on over 800 doors in the race and received the endorsement of Russell Pearce and other Mesa conservatives.

In all a little over 2,900 votes were cast in the District 4 race compared to the 9,000 in District 5 and the 11,000 in District 6. It was long considered that Linoff would align himself with the community folks and downtown organizations similar to Councilman Kavanaugh. Will Glover serve the conservative contrarian role? As a family friend of Kyle Jones, will he continue the same route? Or at the young age of 23, is his style yet to be determined?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

West Mesa CDC has new director

Former Gilbert Mayor Cynthia Dunham will be taking over as the interim director of the West Mesa Community Development corporation. Dunham was a West Mesa resident before moving to Gilbert and serving as Mayor. She is not moving back to Mesa, and will also be keeping her job head of The Leadership Centre at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Interestingly, the article mentions that the West Mesa CDC may be considering merging with another non-profit, but it doesn't mention which one and if their focuses are aligned or not. We shall wait and see what becomes of this in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Campaign finance update

Kirk Adams has spent $87,000 in his bid for the legislature. Compare that to the $1,853 that Russell Pearce has spent so far and the $25,500 spent by Rich Crandall. Pearce tops the list with over 70,000 on hand. Despite his spending spree, Adams, who currentlty serves as Speaker of the House, still had over $33,000 on hand.

You can read the breakdown in this Republic story.


Robert McDonald, Democrat: Received $300; spent $205; balance $437.

Andrew Sherwood, Democrat: Received $1,825; spent $868; balance $1,878.

Russell Pearce, Republican: Received $11,483; spent $1,853; balance $73,549.

Andrea Garcia, Libertarian: Received $403; no expenses; balance $689.


Michael Conway, Democrat: Received $20; spent $2,500; balance $161.

Cecil Ash, Republican: Received $14,140; spent $2,709; balance $11,912.

Steve Court, Republican: Received $21,379; spent $7,232; balance $14,081.

Chris Will, Libertarian: No reports filed.


Rich Crandall, Republican: Received $38,817; spent $25,520; balance $17,836. James Molina, Republican (withdrew from race in July): Received $3,420; spent $4,471; balance $3,994.


Kit Filbey, Democrat: Received $14,319; spent $12,168; balance $2,510.

Scott Perkinson, Republican: Received $7,160; spent $16,421; balance $311.

Justin Olson, Republican: Received $8,732; spent $6,453; balance $8,351.

Kirk Adams, Republican: Received $10,715; spent $48,690; balance $33,819.


Steve Yarbrough, Republican: Received $7,514; spent $9,886; balance $12,341.


Venessa Whitener, Republican: Received $7,355; spent $13,776; balance $7,373.

Jeff Vance, Republican: No receipts, expenses or balance.

Manuel Torres, Democrat: Late report.

Sharon Spane, Democrat: Received $115; spent $116; balance $609.

J.D. Mesnard, Republican: Received $13,141; spent $13,980; balance $14,477.

Linda Macias, Green: Received $1,292; spent $45; balance $1,247.

Tom Forese, Republican: Received $12,720; spent $15,889; balance $9,216.


Andy Biggs, Republican: Received $8,815; spent $4,266; balance $5,958.


Steve Urie, Republican: Received $21,070; spent $15,607; balance $5,788.

Kelly Townsend, Republican: Received $1,683; spent $1,685; balance $197.

Brett Petillo, Republican: Received $3,620; spent $3,805; balance $655.

Paul Howell, Republican: Received $21,422; spent $15,698; balance $6,329.

Laurin Hendrix, Republican: Received $21,619; spent $235; balance $22,219.

Skyler Holcombe, independent: Late report.

Eddie Farnsworth, Republican: Received $24,259; spent $11,708; balance $13,031.

Adam Armer, Republican: No receipts; spent $344; zero balance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Light rail extension design approved

Service won't start for another 6 years, but the light rail extension into Mesa took another step forward with the Feds approval of the design work. Mesa's end of line stop is currently the busiest along the line. One would guess that this trend will continue with the extended lines.

While light rail has started to become part of the regular life, the slowed economy has yet to show what kinds of economic opportunities can be realized along the line. Perhaps by 2016, the economy will have recovered and we will have a better view of if light rail will be able to reach its potential.

In the meantime, it is a good way to get to downtown sporting events and games at ASU.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Marine One conundrum

Marine One is the presidential helicopter. Work to replace the current helicopter was started under President Bush and continued under President Obama until the costs began to skyrocket. At that point, Obama halted the replacement.

Now, it looks like work may be underway again and Boeing may be in the hunt. This could be great news for Boeing if they were able to land the program creating jobs and more economic opportunity for Mesa. On the other hand, its another Government funded program which means more taxpayer money for a project that many might find a bit excessive.

It is understandable why the Mayor and other city leaders would want to land the program. The question is, with the continuing growth of Government in the past few years and the relative unpopularity of Obama among Arizonans, will the benefits outweigh the negatives?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

District 4 only competitive race

Of the three city council seats that are up, (4, 5, 6), only District 4 features a competitive match up between Vic Linoff and Christopher Glover. Higgins and Somers were both let off without a challenger, which some will take to mean that they are doing a great job, while others will consider it a case of voter apathy.

The Republic is featuring articles from both Linoff and Glover on why they would be best for the council. District 4 is the downtown Mesa district and it typically has the lowest turnout of the entire city. It will be interesting to see how much attention this race gains in the busy primary elections.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Molina is out

Just as early ballots start to hit households, David Molina, the recruited challenger to take on Rich Crandall, has decided to drop out of the race. After deciding not to run himself, Chuck Gray and fellow LD19 ultra-conservatives had drafted Molina to run. They spent the next few months attacking Crandall in Molina's name. It appears that Molina chose his business over a busy legislative race.

With Kevin Gibbons from the left last year and James Molina from the right this year, it seems that drafting candidates whose hearts aren't really in the race is a losing proposition, especially in Mesa.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

We noticed in the past few weeks that there appeared to be fewer campaign signs around town, but we assumed it was the typical vandalism and weather taking its toll. However, it turns out that Mesa is cracking down on campaign signs.

Hundreds of signs have been taken down and hauled in by Mesa's compliance department. While we thank the city for its attention improving the landscape, our real question is if sign enforcement is the best use of resources. Letters, pink ribbons, and pick up trucks seem like a lot of work to pick up signs. Its one thing if they are blocking views, its quite another if they are 14 1/2 feet from the Curb instead of 15.

In addition, the threat of a civil violation and a fine for sign placement it fairly outrageous. Who do you fine? The candidate? What if a volunteer put up the sign? What if an opponent moved the sign to be out of compliance?

Getting tough on signs while Mesa has made major cuts to other city services is one of the reasons why voters will never believe that there isn't more to be cut from government. When we are cutting back on police and fire, its hard for people to think that strict sign code enforcement carries equal weight.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Florida backs out... for now.

The business interests in Florida have announced that they have withdrawn their offer to the Cubs. While this is great news, it should only be considered a small victory. There is still no deal in place to keep the Cubs in Mesa, and while Florida is temporarily out of the race, you can bet that they will jump back in at the first sign of trouble.

Also, shouldn't we be worried that there is still a chance that the team could move elsewhere in the valley? Mesa is on the right track to get something done with or without the legislature, but we cannot rest easy until the Cubs are guaranteed to stay in town for many years to come.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mesa will enforce 1070

We haven't said much about SB1070, instead letting it to be worked out on its own. For the most part, its a state and federal matter, but when it comes down to it, it will be the cities that uphold the law. To that end, Mayor Smith has stated that he will enforce the law.

Despite claims that somehow Mesa is a "sanctuary city," Mayor Smith has said that he will follow the law, while ensuring that people's rights are protected. Its the right move and the appropriate message especially to those who fear an expansion of the Sheriff's sweeps.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Despite decline, Spring Training is still critical

Spring Training brought in an estimated $348 million economic impact to the state. This is down from last year, which is understandable from the sagging economy and the fact that 27 fewer games were played. Nevertheless, nearly $350 million in impact is nothing to shake a stick at. In comparison, it is estimated that the Super Bowl in Glendale brought in $500 million.

Once again, the Cubs lead in per game attendance, but were narrowly beat out by the Giants for largest total attendance because the Cubs played one less game. Regardless, we can see that once again, the Cubs are a significant draw.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fireworks are back!

Make sure to check out the new freedom festival in Downtown Mesa and the fireworks display on Saturday. This has a potential to be a signature event for Mesa for many years to come, and though its not clear if this was intentional, not going up against the display at Tempe Town Lake was probably wise.

It was disappointing that the fireworks at MCC were cancelled last year, but it is neat to see a new tradition grow out of that situation. Let's see how it turns out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Medical reputation has a nice ring to it

The editorial in the Republic discusses the latest successful surgery at Cardon Childrens Center and how it is an example of Mesa's growing "medical reputation." That kind of knowledge based reputation is exactly what we need to help expand and attract medical professionals to Mesa. It also the leg up we need to help us in the chase to land a medical school.

From the success of the childrens hospital to Banner Gateway earning the award as top cancer hospital, Mesa has an opportunity to become a medical destination for doctors, teachers, and even patients. As the society continues to age, medical breakthroughs and healthcare will be critical industries that will continue to grow. Indeed, this is exactly what the H in HEAT (Health care, Education, Aerospace, Tourism) is all about.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

End of Citrus Era in Mesa

Mesa's last major citrus packing plant is permanently closing its doors. This is truly an end of an era and a nod to our change from a rural community to an urban one. While there are still groves to be found in Northeast Mesa, there are far less than there used to be.

Moreover, the spring time smell of citrus isn't as pervasive as it once was and countless groves across the city have given way to subdivisions and shopping centers. Gone, also, are most of the cotton fields that dotted the city and kept things cooler on summer evenings, with the heat escaping into the night sky. These days that heat island continues far into the twighlight hours.

Clearly Mesa has matured, and in some ways, we are finally starting to act like it: long term economic planning, embracing emerging technology and aerospace, joining regional efforts instead of going it alone. While its fun to be nostalgic, the good old days don't need to prevent us from having better days ahead.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Competitive Higher Ed needed

Colleges are interested in Mesa and that is a very good thing. Mayor Smith and the economic development department are looking into the feasibility of attracting universities to build a 24/7 presence in downtown, including a potential medical school.

This is great news for students not only in Mesa, but across the valley as well. For far too long Arizona has been in need of expanded competitive higher education options. For most students, their options appear to be limited to ASU, UofA, NAU, Grand Canyon or community college. Sure, there are other opportunities our there that we probably aren't naming, but the reality is, even if we named every school, they could probably still be counted on two hands.

Cities with far smaller populations boast significantly more higher education opportunities with mulitple private, religious, and specialty options available. Like we have said before ASU Polytechnic is nice, but maybe it is time to stand on its own. Why not a BYU campus in the community with the largest LDS population outside of Utah?

As we have said before, the biggest thing to remember is that this drive for higher education will not happen overnight. It will take some time, but Mesa is doing the right thing to cultivate these opportunities, even if they are faced with some skepticism. Mesa continues to strive to define itself instead of allowing the naysayers to do it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mesa flies solo on Cubs

Now that the spring training effort has failed at the legislature, Mesa has chosen to go it alone to keep the Cubs in town. However, reality is that Mesa has no other choice. The Cubs are critical to the city's economy, and if everyone else in the valley was honest, they would admit that they are critical to spring training as whole.

According to the article, "Mesa's highest monthly sales-tax collections generally come in March, during spring training. Flight traffic at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport also typically spikes during that month."

That is something that we can't live without in the long-term. As it is, the City will now walk the road alone to try to get a deal done to keep the Cubs in Mesa. With Mesa going alone, will it likely end up with a fall election?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cubs bill may be voted today!

From CubsWininAZ:

It's time for you to step up to the plate! House Bill 2736 is headed for discussion and a possible vote TODAY! You can read more on the HB 2736 on the Cubs Win In AZ Web site and about the potential amendment to the bill on our Facebook page.

We need to show the Arizona legislature that there is support for the bill. Here's what you can do to help:

• Contact the Arizona House of Representatives TODAY to encourage them to support HB 2736. You don't need to be an Arizona resident to do this, just a Cubs fan and a Spring Training supporter. For a list of state representatives visit: http://www.azleg.gov/memberRoster.asp?Body=H. You can email them or call them and let them know you support the bill.

• Alert friends, family and your social media networks to do the same!

Key Talking Points:

• It's important to note the proposed legislation will not impact the state's general fund. It's similar to previous bills that helped build current Cactus League facilities.

• This legislation will help Mesa achieve its goal of keeping the Cubs in Arizona while at the same time helping the entire Cactus League retain its top attendance draw.

• This legislation sends a message that Arizona is prepared to protect an economic engine like Spring Training baseball. HB 2736 will not only help the Cubs, but it will help the entire Cactus League.

• The Cubs are the top draw in spring training in both Arizona's Cactus League and Florida's Grapefruit League.

• If the Cubs were to leave, all teams would lose revenue. In a recent economic study, the Cubs accounted for 22% of Cactus League attendance and they bring in $138 million annually to the Arizona economy.

• We've done a good job attracting new teams to strengthen the Cactus League. It's important we help teams like the Cubs who made this league what it is today.

• This is about guaranteed jobs and revenue. This isn't about something that's projected in the future. We already know the benefit of having the Cactus League in Arizona and what teams like the attendance-leading Cubs bring to our economy. This isn't speculation, this is economic preservation.

Thank you again for your support. And remember, keep up with the latest news and information at www.CubsWinInAz.com, friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The Cubs Win In AZ Team

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

McCain and Palin to visit West Mesa

Is it just convenience that Dobson High School continues to land high profile events or is there something about West Mesa? This time Senator John McCain and his former running mate Sarah Palin will be hosting a campaign appearance at Dobson High School a little over a year after President Obama used the school as a backdrop.

We do doubt that there will be any of the sprucing up like there was for the President's visit, but it is interesting that the school continues to land newsmaking political events. Could it be as simple as a high capacity auditorium with convenient access? Perhaps.

Could it be because the school happens to be in the Congressional District where Hayworth lost to Mitchell?

Could it be because West Mesa has traditionally been a little more moderate (as seen by Democrats are trying to make inroads)?

Could it be because they wanted to go to Mesa, but not TOO FAR into Mesa?

Mesa resident dies in Afghanistan

We used to hear a lot about the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. While there are still thousands of soldiers abroad protecting our freedoms, we now hear more about the President's healthcare plan or his NCAA bracket than we do about our soldiers.

Now, it only appears like we hear anything when its bad news. Sadly, an Army Ranger from Mesa was killed in Afghanistan by an IED. Sgt. Glen "Jake" Whetten was among the first wave to invade Iraq five years ago and was in Afghanistan training and evaluating their troops.

This is an important reminder that even though we may not hear about these wars every day, the dangers out there are real, and we should always remember to thank our soldiers, no matter how much our president tries to distance himself from them.

New Gilbert Blog

Awhile back, we offered to help start up a blog about local issues in Gilbert. It was probably for the best that no one took us up on it, considering how little we have been able to post about Mesa lately.

Check out Gilbert Watch to get a conservative view on what's going on in Gilbert. They have been keeping tabs on the latest on the Gilbert tax issues and the bible study ban which has turned into a bit of a debacle.

Friday, March 5, 2010

East Valley Mayors Support Rich Crandall

East Valley Mayors Support Rich Crandall
Mayor Smith, Mayor Lewis, Mayor Sanders endorse Crandall for Legislative District 19 Senate

MESA – Representative Rich Crandall, current Chair of the House Education Committee, local businessman and former Mesa School Board President, proudly announced the support of three East Valley Mayors today in his race for the District 19 State Senate seat. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Gilbert Mayor John Lewis, and Queen Creek Mayor Art Sanders announced their support for Crandall and his efforts to continue to provide much needed experience at the State Capitol.

"I am honored to have the support of these three leaders who proudly represent our East Valley municipalities," said Rich Crandall, "I hope to continue working with each of them on the many issues facing our cities and towns."

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said, "I know Rich will work to ensure that the state budget isn’t balanced on the backs of cities and local taxpayers. There is a reason he was named a Legislative Champion by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns."

"He knows this community well and is committed to making a difference," said Gilbert Mayor John Lewis, "I think Rich is the right man for the job and has shown that with his service in the House of Representatives and through his commitment to our children."

Mayor Art Sanders adds, "Rich understands the needs of the East Valley and the Phoenix/Mesa Gateway area. He will continue to serve the region well in his bid for the Senate."


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cubs take step forward despite MLB opposition

The Cubs stadium plan passed the House Commerce Committee yesterday in a 6 to 2 vote, but it wasn't without a bit of drama. Major League Baseball has come out and said that they don't support a surcharge on the other team's tickets to pay for the Cubs stadium.

Its clear that the legislature appears to understand the impact of the Cubs on Spring Training, but its sort of funny to watch this professional jealousy rear its ugly head.

Well, maybe MLB wants to step up and pay the 20-25% slump that each team would feel if the Cubs were to leave town. Also, its sort of ironic to watch a league which shares revenue (including paying big payouts to small market teams such as the one formerly owned by Commissioner Selig), but anything that could help a "big" team must be frowned upon.

Maybe the Cubs should come out and say that they opposed revenue sharing. How about the Yankees?

State of Mesa 2010: Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh- District 3

This year, we have brough back the "State of Mesa." We have offered the mayor and each councilmember an opportunity to submit their own editorial on the state of their District to be posted on Mesa Issues. Here is Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh's State of District 3:

In this new calendar year, Mesa Council District 3 is a busy place in terms of events, activities, construction and economic development opportunities.

On February 27th, District 3 residents are joining with volunteers from Districts 1 and 5 to create a pool of over 1,500 volunteers who will work on a variety of cleanup and beautification projects, ranging from alley cleanups to painting walls to helping elderly residents with the appearance of their homes and addresses. This is the second annual “Top to Bottom” event sponsored by the city.

Marlborough Mesa residents are continuing to set the bar for acting as volunteer code compliance “eyes and ears” and have developed a great web-based program to anonymously report code violations.

Dobson Ranch residents continue to offer seasonal recreation and entertainment activities for their residents. Their retiree club is particularly active.

Mesa Community Colleges is bulging at the seams with a 10% jump in enrollment this semester.

Our district will see changes in the education system with the closure of Powell Junior High School, the transfer of 8th graders from junior high schools to high schools, as well as programming changes in a number of elementary schools.

Many residents and students are anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Rhodes Pool in May with its popular “Flow Rider” attraction.

Students at Rhodes are participating in “Project Citizen” and will be speaking before the City Council Community and Neighborhood Services Committee on the adoption of a public policy in the city which would ban retail use of plastic bags due to their harm to the environment.

The Dobson Ranch Golf Course has been named the best public course in Arizona.

City construction projects will include the improvement of the Dobson/Guadalupe intersection, new bus pullouts and shelters at Dobson/Baseline and Dobson/Southern as well as a new bike lane system on part of Dobson Road.

We expect a final decision to be made this spring on the location and cost of the new Dobson District Police Substation. Following that decision, design and programming decisions at the new station will occur with construction starting probably in early 2011.

This spring, the City Council is expected to approve new street signage, streetscape and landscaping in the Fiesta District, including improvements to Southern, Dobson, Alma School, Longmore and Extension. However, the old Fiesta Village site continues to be a thorn in the city’s side with the property owners in no apparent rush to sell or redevelop the site.

Planning work continues with stakeholder groups on taking light rail from the Sycamore Station to past Mesa Drive. Their recommendations will be coming to the City Council later this spring.

In terms of economic development, Mekong Plaza and Julio Cesar Chavez Compeones are successful examples of adapting big box retail to new uses. Both have been supportive of many community organizations and events.

Southwest Ambulance, which has its corporate headquarters in District 3, is set to announce the transfer of more than 140 jobs from Scottsdale to a new site in District 3.

The city is working with a developer who proposes to reopen the theater at Poca Fiesta Plaza into a dinner/first-run movie theater which will also have a beer and wine license. This is a concept that has recently proved successful in several Texas locations.

Mesa Public Schools and Mesa Community College continue to refine their plan for a new event center and joint athletic facilities on the campus at MCC. The City of Mesa has been helping to facilitate these discussions.

District 3 continues to be one of the most diverse areas of the City of Mesa and I look forward to working with its residents, businesses and organizations in the coming year.

Mesa police union official suspended

A local Mesa Police union official has been suspended (with pay) during an investigation of if he lied about a union flyer being distributed via email. Obviously, we should not assume his guilt - we should allow the process to play out.

However, the name seemed familiar. So in doing a little looking back, we found that this officer is the same one who left his gun in public. After 13 plus years, one would assume that he would have a decent grasp of the rules.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mayor Smith defends Cubs bill

Now that the euphoria of the Cubs staying in Mesa has finally started to wear off, the actual reality of all the work that needs to be done is starting to set in. There are a few critics out there who don't think that the Cubs should benefit from leaguewide tourism taxes, despite the fact that the large majority of the existing stadiums were funded in a similar manner.

What they also seem to forget in their argument is the tremendous impact that the Cubs have on the Cactus league. The departure of the Cubs would be far more detrimental than boosting fees to keep them here - something that Mayor Smith was quick to point out. While his words were stern, they were nothing compared to the lashing he gave D-Backs and White Sox owners last week for their hypocricy and irony of standing up for the taxpayers after getting taxpayer funded stadiums of their own.

There is still a long way to go in keeping the Cubs in Mesa. Supporters, politicians, volunteers, and just plain Mesa residents should keep this in mind, and keep the heat on as much as possible. Florida is going to continue to watch intently and hope to swoop in if something in this deal falters.

We wouldn't be surprised to see them try to apply some external pressure at the legislature, and even if it makes it through at the Capitol, there is still the risk that they could try to make waves in the local election.

State of Mesa

Last year, we launched a series known as "State of Mesa," where offered each councilmember an opportunity to submit their own editorial on the state of their District to be posted on Mesa Issues.

Councilmember Dave Richins, Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh, and Councilmember Scott Somers took us up on our offer.

Once again, we have extended the opportunity to each councilmember to submit an editorial that we will reprint it its entirety. This year, we have also extended our offer to Mayor Smith.

We'll wait and see if we get a response.

Looking back one more time

Since it has been sitting on the Arizona Republic's Mesa section homepage for awhile, we thought we would weigh in on Mesa's 5 most viewed stories of last year. We covered each of these stories, and for the most part, the theme seems to be bad news.

For a year that started off with a record setting stint without a homicide, two of the top five stories viewed had to do with murders. A third story had to do with the tragic loss of the baby that was hurt by the family dog. The other two dealt with the economy - protesting Obama, and our local grocery shutting their doors.

It looks like the old phrase "if it bleeds, it leads" still has a place in local news. We can't change what people decide to look at over the year, but we can encourage our community leaders to make sure there is as much good news as possible to share with others so hopefully, the bad news can be far outweighed by the good.

Off-Track Betting in Mesa?

Turf Paradise, the local horse track, wants to bring off-track betting to Mesa. There are 57 such sites around the state, several of which are in the local area, but none are specifically in Mesa. This opportunity could be a boon to local establishments, keeping those looking to wager in town instead of traveling elsewhere to make their bets.

On the other hand, does this become an issue in such a conservative community? As we have said before, any steps that can be taken to help the local economy should be explored, if off-track betting keeps more people in Mesa, its a worthy idea to look into. However, the council would be wise to take a blood pressure check of the community before they explore such an option.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cubs to Stay in Mesa!

Well, that was fast. Monday, Mesa voted unanimously to approve plans necessary to keep the Cubs in Mesa, and then two days later, the Cubs have announced that they are staying (Tribune version here). Take that, Naples!

There is a great media round up at a cool new site called Cubs Win in AZ, which appears to have launched in the last few days. They have also launched a twitter account as well (@CubsWinInAZ) which joins @KeeptheCubs and @CubsinMesa as part of the growing tweetforce supporting the Cubs in Mesa.

This is great news for Mesa - especially since this is an economic opportunity that we could not, in any way, afford to lose. The devil, as they say, is now in the details - the City of Mesa and the Arizona State legislature must now step up with funding sources to help foot the bill for the $84 million dollar facility. While the price tag may seem a little steep, its important to remember that this amount would be covered more than a dozen times over in the next 25 years.

In these times of economic uncertainty, it's not only important to explore new opportunities, but to also hold on to what we have. The Cubs are a known quantity and a driving force behind all of Arizona's spring training. We're glad that Mesa and the State are willing to do what is necessary to keep the Cubbies in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mesa makes commitment to keep Cubs

Mesa voted unanimously last night to approve a new stadium, clubhouse, and training facility to keep the Cubs in Mesa. It appears that there are still kinks to be worked out, like where the stadium will be located and how, exactly, it will be paid for, but the agreement approved by the council would give Mesa the exclusive rights to get a deal done, which would take Florida off the table.

This is a good step forward for Mesa, getting the exclusive rights to make a deal happen and prevent any more actions by the Cubs to keep playing one state off of another. Now, we have to wait and see if the Cubs are willing to sign the agreement as well.

As we have said before, the economic benefits that the Cubs bring not only to Mesa but the entire valley cannot be overemphasized. They are the biggest draw in the Cactus League and the rising tide that raises all of the other teams. There is a reason that legislators outside of Mesa are willing to help make sure that this deal happens - they understand the fiscal impact that this would have on the valley.

The bad news is that there is a fairly aggressive set of timelines that need to be met to keep this deal on track. One of which, shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but you guessed it, the issue will also have to face an Election! What would a premier project be in Mesa without a vote of the people?

The other bit of difficult news is the notion that now is the time to build a new stadium when state and local budgets are in such need. Our response to that is think of the alternative. If Mesa does nothing to keep the Cubs, the action would further depress the local economy in the short term and would dim our city's economic viability in the long term. We are still very dependent on sale tax revenue to fund city services, and tax revenue is generated by attracting people to the City.

So, now, we just have to wait and see what the Cubs will do.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Check out @MesaIssues for Twitter Friday

once again, its Twitter Friday at Mesa Issues. All commentary will be via twitter.

Join the conversation! Let us know what you're thinking. Look for us at our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mesa's bid for higher education

Mayor Smith is leading the charge to attract more colleges to Mesa. He pointed to several smaller cities such as Pittsburgh which boast a significant number of universities. Although Mesa Public Schools has been a leader in producing outstanding graduates, there are not many opportunities to keep these bright students in Mesa.

Not only do these students need to leave town to get a quality education, they often have to leave the state. Our state universities have done a great job providing higher education, but they have been able to exist within a vacuum. As we have said before, a little competition would do some good, especially to ASU.

Not only should Mesa look to land a low cost university, but they should look to attract private universities and a medical school as well. In addition, perhaps the time has really come to spin off Poly to allow ASU to focus on their core missions in Tempe and downtown.

The biggest thing to remember is that this drive for higher education will not happen overnight. It will take some time, but Mesa is doing the right thing to cultivate these opportunities, even if they are faced with some skepticism. Mesa continues to strive to define itself instead of allowing the naysayers to do it.

Do the Cubs deserve upgraded batting cages?

It looks like the decision might come this week on if Mesa is going to shell out up to $750,000 in upgraded batting cages for the Cubs. The Cubs have not made their decision between Arizona and Florida, but it appears that they were willing to admit that if they do stay, they "won't look beyond Mesa."

While this is decent news, is it enough for Mesa to shell out $750,000 on upgraded facilities? Will these upgrades be enough to attract another ball club if either the Cubs move to a new facility or if they decide to skip town? At least, hopefully, the rest of the valley will rally behind Mesa, understanding how important the Cubs are to all of the other teams.

The Cubs are saying that they will make their decision by the end of the month. How will the council feel if they vote yes this week to spend the money and then in the next week or two, the Cubs take a hike?

All that being said, if Mesa thinks that these upgrades are an essential part to keeping the Cubs in town, then the investment is worth every penny. We cannot afford to lose the tourism revenue that spring training brings to town.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More people to watch

The Republic has put together a list of 10 people in Mesa to watch in 2010 (though the online version appears to have only 9). The list has a lot of good people on it, but we have to say that there are several that they have missed. We understand why they stuck with 10, it being "2010" and all, but here are 10 more people who should be on the list:

Mayor Scott Smith
We are all still getting used to the idea of a Mayor from Mesa making name for himself nationally and locally as a strong leader. Following a year of changing the way Mesa does business, he has an opportunity to shape the city for many years to come.

Senator Russell Pearce
Senator Pearce will be front and center in the state budget battle as appropriations chairman and he continues to push his reforms for illegal immigration. Ever the controversial figure, it is not clear if he will face a heated election like the one he weathered in 2008.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
While the Sheriff is not a Mesa resident, he continues to take special interest in our fair city. Will there be more raids? Has he really made peace with the Mayor? With several fights brewing on the county level, will Mesa slip from his radar?

Representative Rich Crandall
With Senator Chuck Gray deciding not to run for re-election, Representative Crandall appears to be the heir-apparent for the LD 19 Senate seat. While a Gray vs. Crandall head-to-head has been avoided, will the district face a bloody primary battle?

The Matta Family
Matta's Riverview is underway and you can follow their progress at Got Mattas? They are supposed to be using decorations and other things from the old restaurant. If the restaurant actually does open this year, expect the Matta family and their Mesa tradition to get a lot of attention.

James Tevault
If you don't know James by name, you certainly know his tweets over at @VisitMesa. He remains one of the best users of twitter in the Valley, keeping people up to date with what is going on in Mesa. He is truly a model for other tourism representatives across the state, a fact that we hope Mesa CVB is well aware of.

Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh
Kavanaugh has been leading the charge for the renewal of the Fiesta District and has made his voice heard on the Mesa City Council. While his domestic partner registry appears to be on the back burner, we expect that he will continue to make his presence known on the council this year.

Tribune Publishers
The Tribune has announced that they will continue to publish beyond their December 31, 2009 original deadline. Will they finalize a deal with a new buyer? With names like Scott Bordow leaving, will they still have the independent flavor that many of us have grown to love and respect? We hope Le Templar sticks around, however our offer to him to blog on Mesa Issues whenever he wants still stands.

Rex Griswold
He is still an interesting guy. Rumors of him running for another office appear to have cooled, but we still wouldn't be surprised if he threw his hat back in the political ring. With openings in LD 19 and at other levels of government, we expect that we will hear from him (and his smiling campaign signs) again.

Mesa Voters
As we mentioned in our 2010 preview, the voters will decide on city council members and new legislative representation this year. However, if any of the past few years have taught us, there may be several other local issues that could show up on the ballot - a Cubs referendum perhaps?

Happy New Year

After a few weeks off, we're back and ready to tackle the new year. While 2009 was marked nationally and locally by financial uncertainty, budget cuts, and job losses, we can hope that 2010 will be a year of renewal and opportunity. Here in Mesa, there are several things to watch over the next year:

The Chicago Cubs
While spring training tickets are already on sale for this year, the question looms on if the Cubs will stay in Mesa or if they will leave for Florida. Mesa remains firm in their commitment, but they have also made it clear that they expect the Cubs to come forward with an answer. Is there a Wrigley West in Mesa's future, or will be faced with losing millions in tourism revenue? We'll be keeping an eye on Keep the Cubs for the latest.

Gateway Airport and Surrounding Area
Gateway recently welcomed their 1 millionth traveler and Allegiant Air has announced that they will be purchasing 18 more planes. This is great news for the area as a travel hub. Now, we'll wait and see if there is good news about the aerospace incubator, the movie studio, the Gaylord Hotel and the future of ASU Polytechnic. As we have said before, the Gateway area has the area to lead not only Mesa's economic recovery, but the entire region's as well.

Budget Cuts
Mesa has already made dramatic budget cuts across the board and have reorganized local government to do more with less. The four day work week at City Hall appears to be working, and while the budget has been tight, public safety appears to be adequately maintained. We are, however, still at the mercy of rising and falling sales tax revenues, and there is still no telling what the State's looming budget shortfall will mean to the cities and towns. We may need to be prepared for more budget cuts in our future.

The Fiesta District
The end of 2009 was marked by a lot of talk about the Fiesta District and its future. From the constantly evolving strategic plan to the location of the new substation, it will be interesting to see if all of the talk translates into actual changes. Mesa's long standing history of reuse and renewal points to an eventual recovery of the area - will 2010 be the year that it happens?

Local and Legislative Elections
City Council Districts 4, 5, and 6 will be up for election this November. It sounds like Higgins and Somers will seek re-election, but no front runner has been determined for District 4. In addition, the state legislative races will be heating up with new potential representation for LD 21 and a round of musical chairs in LD 19 and LD 22. The East Valley has the potential for several new faces in the legislature later this year.

As you can see, as the new decade dawns, there are several exciting opportunities that lie ahead of us. AZCentral has a slide show that explores several more as well.