Political Bites: Most Influential in East Valley

Who is the most influential person in the Southeast Valley, and why?

It really depends on who and what you need to influence.  Politically there are plenty of mayors, councilmen and legislators with influence.  However, one person making a tremendous impact and gaining influence daily is Joe Johnston of Joe’s Real BBQ, Joe’s Farm Grill, Liberty Market and Agritopia.  He has set a course and made a commitment to change his immediate community.  He has been steadfast and disciplined earning respect throughout all of Phoenix for his hard work.

Political Bites: Rising Prescription Costs

Given increasing prescription costs stateside, would you buy medicine from Mexican or Canadian pharmacies?

Pharmaceutical companies are simply out of control spending more money on marketing drugs than they do on the research, but claiming escalating costs are due to regulation and research.  It is unfortunate that any US citizen has to go to a foreign country in order to afford medical care.  Especially if that country has weaker regulations and lower standards of care.  However, it is a reality that many face.

Building Arizona’s Future: Jobs, Innovation and Competitiveness

This past April I attended the 96th Arizona Town Hall in Tucson Arizona.  The New Economy: A Guide For Arizona serves as background information on the event.  The result of the Town Hall was a set of recommendations (pdf).  Recently at Mesa Community College I was asked to speak about the experience and highlight my recommendations.  Below is my summary.

The Process

The process was good discussion, but it often felt that things were watered down quite a bit by the time they got recorded.  However, at the final session I saw the passion come back out and some good middle ground was found on a number of difficult issues.  If only our legislatures could come to agreement in this fashion.

Economic Development

Economic Development has changed.  It used to be about material resources and manufacturing infrastructure.  That is changing and now creative people are the most valuable resource.  Good companies move to where good people.  We must invest in human and social capital to be a player in the future.

Based on that I believe the following recommendations should have priority and we should concentrate on making them a reality.

Slide Rock

8. Preserve Quality of Life

We need to attract good people in the short term to fill the needs of growing companies emerging in the new economy.  Also, we need to retain the quality creators that are already here.  We can do this by preserving the quality of life.

a. Cultivate the arts, sports and other recreational amenities.

We need creatives to get involved with their local art scene.  Bring relevant programming to the great Performing Arts Centers many cities have.  Support existing programming and work to create new and diverse programs.  We need to convert empty buildings into Art galleries, centers for creation and music.

b. Preserve our natural and cultural resources.

We need to get the state legislature to restore funding to our State Park system and find ways to make sure it stays healthy.

c. Develop strong sense of place in our communities.

We need to encourage density and support third places that build a sense of place.

1. Education

We must start building our future now.  Our future lies in our youth.  We need to radically transform education to be a leader in how we restore creativity to schools.

a. Improve funding and rigorous statewide standards to meet workforce needs of business and industry.

It is time we get serious about funding schools and we restore learning to it’s roots and allow kids to explore and create.

7. Broadening the Tax Base

We need to have the proper way to pay for quality of life issues.  The best people want to live in a quality place.  We have to stop looking to be the Walmart of the world.  Low cost living, education and infrastructure attracts the people and employers that have bleak place in the future economy.

a. Implement a broad-based, diversified, and stable tax structure that does not rely disproportionately on sales tax.

We have to explore raising property taxes or finding other ways to balance providing necessary infrastructure.

11. Other Economic Development Actions

We need to grow businesses as much if not more than recruit them and then help them grow.  Jobs don’t create jobs.  Companies create jobs.  We need to focus on creating companies.

a. Fund business incubators, a competitive small grant program for start-ups and existing small businesses, and other small business assistance programs.

2. Strategic Planning

d. Address both recruitment of new businesses and retention of businesses and talent already present in Arizona.

4. Capital Formation

We need to have capital available for those companies as they grow.

d. Encourage AZ individuals, foundations, and industry to invest in an AZ “fund of funds” to provide venture captial for the early-stage development of new companies.

We need people to invest in seed funds to encourage creation of new businesses.

6. Infrastructure

We need a quality infrastructure to promote growth.

a. Create a networked business environment through advances in our transportation system and data connectivity.

12. Other Activities that Influence Economic Development

a. Pursue comprehensive, multimodal transportation planning and design programs.

Summary

Don’t wait on the state legislature, you can help do this RIGHT now.  Look to entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling.  Participate in your local government and start making a difference.  Simply voting can start to unlock necessary change.  Be active in our future!

ASU Administrative Bloat Part of Higher Cost?

The Goldwater Institute recently released “Administrative Bloat at America Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education“.  It shows that administrative spending per student has increased by 46 percent between 1993 and 2007.  Dr. Crow of course feels this assessment is not fair.  I guess sometimes you get defensive when your nearly $750,000 salary comes into question as waste.

Political Bites: Southeast Valley Changes

Some things from the Southeast Valley’s past — businesses, buildings, industries, feelings, etc. — are no longer with us. What is one thing you miss the most, and why?

There has been a lot of change in the Southeast Valley in the last decade.  I miss Rittenhouse Road connecting at Williams Field Road and heading South to Queen Creek.  It provided a bit of character and followed the train.  Additionally, seeing the Boys and Girls Club in Gilbert get demolished was difficult even though the building was in rough shape.

Political Bites: Mesa Gateway Airport Destinations

What destinations or airline carriers would you like to see at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport?

Allegiant has a done a great job so far, but it would be good to see other innovators in the industry like Southwest, Jet Blue and Virgin use the airport.  Service to Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles would be beneficial for travel and commuters.  Supporting major hubs like Chicago, Atlanta, DC, New York, Boston and San Francisco would be beneficial.

Political Bites: Speed Cameras

Photo-enforcement cameras are due to be shut off July 15 on Valley freeways. Should the program be revived or the cameras left off for good?

Automating the enforcement of laws by non-humans is dangerous ground. It starts to set in motion the erosion of “due process” we often take for granted. Increased revenue and more conscience drivers are wonderful, but not at the expense of eroding our liberties.

Political Bites: Southeast Valley Arts

What can be done to strengthen the Southeast Valley’s performing arts scene?

First, start booking quality, relevant shows in the performing arts centers.  It’s okay to step outside the family friendly box on occasion.   Second,  there is still a need for smaller venues to allow local artists to take root.  Third, get out and support the arts, you might be surprised what you find.

Background, if needed: http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2010/07/02/20100702mesa-theaters-arts.html

Political Bites: US Constitution Still Relevant

What part of the U.S. Constitution most speaks to you today, and why?

The first ten amendments, better known as the bill of rights.  Many of the founding fathers including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty.  It is acknowledgment of those human liberties that continues to set the United States of America from the rest of the world.