Political Bites: Door to Door Solicitors

Should door-to-door solicitors be regulated more or less than they already are?

Do we really need more government regulation?  Is this really an issue that should be taking the time of Phoenix’s leadership during one of the worst recessions the city has ever faced?  Maybe if we took education, economic development and transportation in the last decade as seriously as we are taking solicitors today we wouldn’t be experiencing financial devastation.

Background: Phoenix is considering an ordinance that would do so; all other Southeast Valley cities already have an ordinance. http://www.azcentral.com/community/ahwatukee/articles/2010/06/10/20100610phoenix-peddlers-ordinance-apathy.html

Political Bites: What Does a Future Candidate Look Like

With a number of lawmakers termed out of their seats, several Southeast Valley Legislative districts could see new blood this fall. What characteristics would you like to see in Legislative candidates?

We need candidates that are pragmatic and visionary.  Willing to set a side party biases. Staying away from decisions based on furthering their political careers instead of bettering their community.  They need to be able to execute difficult decisions and stand for what they believe in.  More than anything they need to connect with their constituents on more than a superficial level and be accessible to them at all times.

Policital Bites: HB 2256 Fireworks Legal

The governor has signed House Bill 2246 legalizing sparklers, ground spinners, cone fountains and toy smoke devices. Good idea or not?

House Bill 2246 restores sanity to a time honored tradition used to celebrate events such as the 4th of July.  Using legislation instead of allowing people some personal responsibility is frivolous.  Punish people for the misuse/abuse instead of punishing responsible people prematurely.  If we banned everything that was dangerous we wouldn’t have automobiles on the road.

Phoenix May Get It Right with Property Tax Hike

Today the City of Phoenix is considering raising property taxes.

No one really likes to talk about tax increases.  However, people love to talk about all the services they expect.  Health Care, Public Safety, Education, Parks and many more.  Someone has to pay for those services.  I believe a civilized society does provide those services and I am happy to pay into them.  Call me a Socialist.  I have been called much worse.

The truth is if we want to be competitive we have to offer the best and brightest an environment worth living in.  The land development baron’s here have stagnated us in more ways than unending sprawl.

The state/local tax burden ranking in Arizona has dropped 24 places from 17th highest in 1977 to 41st in 2008, and the residents here now pay the tenth-lowest tax burden. Most of the change came in the wake of a property tax limitation in 1980, and the state’s ranking has changed little since. Estimated now at 8.5% of income, Arizona’s state/local tax burden percentage is below the national average of 9.7%. Arizona taxpayers pay $3,244 per capita in state and local taxes.

The easiest way to right size this is to raise property taxes.  Now is the time to do this.  As property values have plummeted an increase in property tax will still probably show an overall lower tax bill than previous years.  This makes it nearly unnoticeable to most residents.  It will help control growth and help fund our future.  Kudos to Phoenix for finally considering this after 14 years of stagnation.  I wish other communities would do the same.

Disclosure: I am a property owner.

Political Bites: Photo Radar Enforcement

The Department of Public Safety is not renewing its contract with a firm that provides photo enforcement on state highways. What do you think about that?

There is no substitute for the real thing.  It has always been about generating revenue.  The truth is that a photo enforcement camera has never stopped a speeder or a dangerous driver.    It is about time that DPS is reconsidering the decision to use photo enforcement.

Political Bites: Local Public Transit

What, if anything, can cities do to lessen the impact of transit budget cuts on residents?

Most cities are facing their own budget issues and probably are not in much of position to shoulder the impact on behalf of their residents.  Public transportation is critical to having a vibrant city and stimulating economic development.  However, it is also something that carries a fair amount of subsidization.  As such, it will impact residents.  Raising taxes, rider fares and/or partnering with employers are all options.

Political Bites: Legislative Session Grade

The Legislative session was expected to wrap up April 29. What letter grade would you give lawmakers for this year’s session, and why?

I think they deserve an F.  Their inability to balance the budget in a timely fashion and in a way that only temporarily solves the problem. Including raiding the lottery fund and selling state assets.  Dismantling our state park system and decimating our educational system.  Refusing to unify on a tax increase and pushing it to the voters instead in the form of proposition 100.  Lastly, embarrassing us nationally by passing a politically motivated SB1070.

Arizona Town Hall Session III & IV

Yesterday I asked for feedback on Sessions I & II.  Today I am asking the same for Sessions III & IV.  I will be posting the questions for discussion here in hope that you will respond back to them on your own blog and leave a comment pointing to it or comment directly here.  I will do my best to make sure your voice is heard even if it contradicts my own opinion on the subject.

Session III – Getting the Jobs We Want and Funding

  1. What specific types of jobs does Arizona wish to attract and retain to provide the ideal economy for its people?  Consider: differences in urban, rural and tribal areas; how jobs interact with quality of life and the environment; factors unique to Arizona, such as its weather, geography, natural resources (including water), and tribal populations.  Also consider both small and large employers.
  2. What general factors are most important in attracting and retaining the types of jobs Arizona wants?  Consider, for example, physical infrastructure (including transportation), educational institutions, a trained and literate workforce, “sense of place”, cultural opportunities, climate, political structures, laws, taxes, and any other factors. To what extent does Arizona currently focus on these factors?  Which factors offer the best opportunities for attracting and retaining the types of jobs Arizona wants?
  3. What incentives specific to the creation, retention and recruitment of preferred jobs in Arizona have the best results?  Why?  Consider tax breaks, government support, research and development support, start-up incubators and the role of universities among others. To what extent are we able to measure the effectiveness of such incentives? How well does Arizona utilize such incentives to achieve the best mix of quality jobs?  Where are the best opportunities for improvement?  What are the greatest challenges for improvement, and how can these challenges best be resolved?
  4. What public and private resources currently are available to support economic development that leads to the creation, retention and recruitment of preferred jobs?  What actions, if any, should be taken to increase, diversify or stabilize funding for economic development?  What factors present barriers to the optimal development of funding for economic development?  How can barriers best be overcome?

Session IV – Getting There: Setting Priorities and Taking Action (It is my hope that I will have posted sessions I & II for you :))

  1. Based on your discussions over the last two days, what are the most important actions that should be taken to sustain and develop Arizona’s economy and position Arizona to compete effectively with other economies throughout the world for jobs, capital investment, and other desired economic activities?
  2. How should the actions identified in response to the previous question be prioritized?  Which of these actions should we take immediately?  Which actions should be taken over a longer period of time?  Why?
  3. What is the most effective way to ensure that the actions identified in this session are implemented?  What is each Arizonan’s role and responsibility in this process?  How can individuals fulfill the roles and responsibilities identified in response to the prior question as members of business, government or other organizations?  What is the role of entities, including businesses, government, organizations and others in accomplishing these actions?

After the final plenary session I plan to post any data they give back to us.  Thanks for playing along at home!

Make Up of a Arizona Town Hall Group

Someone asked me how groups were selected for Arizona Town Hall.  Frankly, I have no idea.  I am putting my group listing here so that people can get an idea of what the make of a group looks like diversity wise…

Jesus Bernal, Tucson – Wellness Consultant, Rio Rico Health & Wellness
Richard Bowen, Flagstaff – Assoc. VP for Economic Development and Sustainable Initiatives, Northern Arizona University
Alyce Brownridge, Mayer – Head of The Orme School of Arizona
Karen Caldwell, Scottsdale – Clint Unit Executive, IBM
Albert Celoza, Phoenix – Faculty, Political Science and Religious Studies, Phoenix College
Harold Dorenbecher, Phoenix – Senior VP, Northern Trust Bank of Arizona
Richard Ducote, Green Valley – Community Affairs Manager, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold
Kevin Evans, Maricopa – City Manager, Maricopa
Jodie Filardo, Sedona – Economic Planner, City of Sedona
Jeff Hursh, Tucson – Attorney , Snell and Wilmer
Pat Jones, Tucson – Office of Technology, University of Arizona
Paul Loomis, Oro Valley – Mayor, Town of Oro Valley
Derek Neighbors, Chandler – Director, Gangplank Collective
Randy Nelson, Yuma – Director, Small Business Development Center
Lea Marquez Peterson, Tucson – CEO, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nick Pierson, Tucson – CLU, Northwestern Mutual Retirement Planning Specialist
Barbi Reuter, Tucson – Principal, PICOR Commericial Real Estate Services
Hank Rogers, Eagar – Director Economic Development, Apache County
Mary Rowley, Tucson – President, Strongpoint PR
Emily Ryan, Phoenix – Lobbyist, Copperstate Consulting Group
Caryn Sanchez, Phoenix – Economic Development Project Manager, Salt River Project
Cynthia Spell-Tweh, Phoenix – Deputy Community and Economic Development Director, City of Phoenix
Brenda Sperduti, Phoenix – Director, Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts
Mark Stegeman, Tucson – Professor at Eller School, University of Arizona
Aurora Vallejo, Tucson – Student, Pima Community College
David Welsh, Tucson – SVP, TREO

If you have questions for any of these folks let me know and I will see if I can get an answer from them for you.

Additionally, here are people not in my group I am hoping to meet and connect with for various reasons.

Harry George, Tucson – Managing Partner, Solstice Capital
Cathy McGonigle, Phoenix – Executive Vice President, Flinn Foundation
Larry Penley, Chandler – Senior Fellow, The Center for the Future of Arizona
Zoe Richmond, Gilbert – Director, Union Pacific Railroad <– TUC <-> PHX rail!
David Roderique, Phoenix – CEO, Downtown Phoenix Partnership
Joe Snell, Tucson – President, TREO
Janice Washington, Tempe – State Director for Arizona Small business Development Network <– met already 🙂
Sandra Watson, Phoenix – Assistant Deputy Director, Innovation and Global Business Development, Department of Commerce
Jennifer Whalley, Mesa – Director of Operations, East Valley Partnership
Russ Yelton, Flagstaff – CEO, Norther Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies

Arizona Town Hall Session I & II

Ran into @szylstra and @kimberlanning tonight at the Arizona Town Hall.  So here is the 10 second overview.  About 150 people are selected to participate in the Town Hall.  They are then broken in to groups by the organizers.  The key is diversity (political views, backgrounds, race, gender, physical location, etc)  Then for two days these groups sequester themselves into panels.  Each group is given the same list of things to discuss.  There is a recorder and chair to get final consensus for each  group.

At the end of everyday the recorders/chairs meet and merge all the recommendations of the groups together.  On the final day a merged document is presented to the entire Town Hall.  A plenary session is then done to reconcile anything the recorders got wrong.  This is then made into a final document.  One of the universities then make an official version that gets passed around the state as recommendation.

I feel that while I have my own strong opinions,  it is important to get as many people heard as possible at an event like this.  So  I will be posting the questions for discussion here in hope that you will respond back to them on your own blog and leave a comment pointing to it or comment directly here.  I will do my best to make sure your voice is heard even if it contradicts my own opinion on the subject.

Session I – Evaluating Arizona’s Current Economy

  1. What general factors have most significantly shaped Arizona’s current economy?  What are the greatest strengths of Arizona’s statewide economy?  How do these strengths differ among the various components of the economy, including rural, urban and tribal communities?
  2. What are the most significant weaknesses of Arizona’s economy?   What actions has Arizona taken to address these weaknesses and change the economy?  What actions have stakeholders in Arizona’s economy taken to grow, change, or sustain the state’s economy and to attract investment, jobs and business activity?
  3. To what extent is Arizona’s economy affected by national and international economic conditions?  What unique assets does Arizona have that may enhance its competitiveness in the global economy?  How does Arizona’s economy compare with other states, and with communities throughout the world, for investments, jobs and business activity?
  4. What specific factors present barriers to the optimal development and functioning of a vibrant and competitive economy for the entire state?  How do these factors vary by region of the state?  What strategies is Arizona currently using, statewide and locally, to retain, grow and attract businesses and jobs?

Session II – Developing a Vibrant, Innovative & Competitive Economy

  1. What guiding principles should shape efforts to grow, change or sustain Arizona’s economic activity?  What efforts and activities influence the future development and operation of Arizona’s economy?  What factors should be considered in connection with such efforts and activities? Consider: global competitiveness; the interaction of various state and local economic systems and how they enhance or compete with each other; diversification and quality of jobs; factors unique to Arizona such as its environment, weather, population demographics, and the large proportion of federal, tribal and state land trusts.
  2. In what ways do stakeholders work together to influence Arizona’s economic development and to grow, change or sustain economic activity within Arizona?  Consider governing bodies (federal, state, tribal, regional, county and local), private industry, nonprofits, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, universities and private think tanks, workforce development groups, and the general public.  What would optimize the cooperation of these groups?
  3. How do market forces and government interact to affect Arizona’s economy?  How are the fiscal challenges of national, state and local governments affecting the development of Arizona’s economy?
  4. Considering the factors identified in your response to the previous question, what strategies should be implemented to best meet Arizona’s economic goals?  Which of these strategies do not require additional funding and how viable are they?

If they get me back the data on the consolidated answers to these every night I will transcribe and post them here.  I urge you to please participate.  If for no other reason than to start thinking about these issues. 🙂