City & Local Reform

It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.

<p>It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning. </p>

On July 13, blogger Greg Patterson remarked that Arizona Republic business page columnist Jon Talton's articles have a running theme: "Phoenix is a wasteland without true leadership, light rail or biotech, but Denver and San Diego are totally cool because there are plenty of grunge opportunities for the creative people and by the way, don't go to Wal-Mart because your job will be shipped to China."

As if on cue, Talton wrote the following compare and contrast on San Diego and Phoenix July 21:

Why are so many choosing the suburbs?

High property taxes in Phoenix may be one answer. Phoenix residents bear the highest property tax rates of any city in Maricopa County-five percent higher than the next highest, Glendale, and exactly twice the rate in Surprise. It shouldn't be a surprise that people choose to buy homes where it costs less.

Despite its already high property taxes, Phoenix is asking for more. An upcoming spring vote would let the city issue bonds worth $750 million. The bonds will be repaid with future property taxes.

Mesa spends $2.5 million to run two city-owned golf courses. At the same time, city employees are being asked to forgo cost-of-living adjustments for the next two years to help stave off a looming budget deficit. While glittering greens may look great in brochures and nicely complement the other 19 golf courses in Mesa, a round on the municipal back nine is cold comfort to employees facing de facto pay cuts.

Valley residents spend an average 49 hours a year in traffic jams. Until now, Minneapolis drivers were similarly stuck.

Today, more than 5 million American workers have opted out of the Social Security system, participating instead in plans administered by local and municipal governments.

No one has lately accused the Valley of lacking enough hotel space.

And, yet, both the cities of Phoenix and Glendale are pouring tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money into publicly-financed hotels and convention centers.

Glendale is planning a new "upscale" hotel, estimated to cost between $40 and $60 million and financed primarily by the city. 

With over $500,000 in campaign money and the backing of many of Mesa's leading officials and developers, one would think that the City of Mesa's effort to develop Riverview at Dobson would be a foregone conclusion.

But not so fast!

The plucky Valley Business Owners and Concerned Citizens Inc., a group that in the past has used shoestring budgets to help defeat Mesa's city food tax, is on the watch.

Like mushrooms after a wet winter, convention centers seem to pop up almost out of nowhere.  And much like the accidental fungi, once in a long while you can come across a treasured tuber, like the prized truffle or Maitake.  But most of the time you're probably better off not consuming random mushrooms, because they can be poisonous. So goes the city in search of a convention center.