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.