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>

As the stakes get higher, a couple of new fronts may be opening in the fight against municipal tax-giveaways.

The assumption had been that Phoenix had topped the charts with a $100 million sales tax rebate to CityNorth. Surprise, however, has blown way past that mark with a $240 million rebate to Westcor.

Scottsdale's plan to offer employees up to 11 percent raises next year is a driving force behind city projections that show spending increases will far outpace revenue and population growth in the coming years.

The proposed 2007-08 budget is expected to be approved by the City Council today, with two council members likely voting against the $1.4 billion spending plan because of the 6 percent across-the-board cost-of-living raises that when combined with

5 percent merit raises push the salary increases into double digits.

Well, cities, the party is officially over. Goodbye to taking when you don't like the look of the development on the corner or you think a newer, fresher building might bring in more revenue. It's not that city planners and elected officials can't still be visionary in their quest to see their municipalities develop in the best possible way, they just can't force someone to sell out in order to implement the vision.

The flap over Scottsdale's tax subsidy for Steve Ellman's big-box development plans for Los Arcos mall and the state's pursuit of a new Boeing aerospace plant has rekindled the contentious debate over economic development incentives.

The debate over giving financial incentives or tax breaks to lure jobs and business investment has long been a heated one in Arizona. And the issue is not going away anytime soon, as business and political leaders look to jump-start the state's tottering economy and attract big-ticket and new economy investments.

It is time for straight talk on the fire service initiatives on the May 20 ballot. The good news in that Scottsdale is one of the safest communities in the nation and is fortunate to have excellent fire, police and emergency services. I do not support the fire service propositions as they are written and strongly urge Scottsdale voters to vote NO on Propositions 200 and 201.

Here are the facts:


When people think of downtown Scottsdale, they think of the wonderful shops and fine dining, of Thursday night art walks and, of course, the Sixth Avenue/Stetson area.

Wait, didn't you know? The City Council declared downtown Scottsdale a slum on Dec. 2, 1996.

So what happened between 1993, when Scottsdale was declared the "Most Livable City" by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and 1996, when the city declared the downtown a slum area?

For many, the name Hugh brings to mind the disarming grin of British actor Hugh Grant. But today another Hugh should be in the spotlight, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.

According to Wikipedia, the name Hugh means bright in mind and spirit" or "thoughtful. Mayor Hallman's recent comments on fiscal policy were certainly all three.

In The Matrix, citizens live in a fantasy world where every move is controlled by an omnipresent government. Enter Mohave County and its proposed land development matrix.

Last week, the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the "Matrix" (their title, not ours) land development guidelines.

This probably won't surprise you: Arizona is hot and dry.  In fact, much of Arizona is coping with the 11th straight year of drought.

This won't surprise you either: what's commonsense here at home isn't always so in Washington.  In the early days of the Clean Water Act, the federal government largely had authority over real sources of permanent water.  But the Army Corps of Engineers now regulates not-so-wet-things like road-side ditches and sandy desert bottoms that might contain water once a year, if ever.

Phoenix's recent crime wave has put public safety in the headlines. As our hardworking police force works to make our streets safer, we should study successful crime fighting models like New York.

Once the inspiration for Batman's Gotham City, New York is now the safest big city in America. By comparison, Phoenix has the third-highest overall crime rate among the nation's ten largest cities.