Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Notes on the debabte

Last night I took pretty detailed notes on the last debate for Mayor.  I know it's probably too late for this sort of thing, but I wanted one more post to add my commentary.

Some Comments on the Debate Overall
First of all, I can't say it enough how frustrated I am with the lack of technological investment on the website that offers these debates streaming.  Very few people watch these debates in real-time.  I pay fairly close attention to these things, but I had no idea when they were coming and was likely too busy to watch them exactly when they aired.  The news coverage for this race has been sparse.  Debates are the best way to get informed.  

I really wanted to watch this debate earlier.  But it took approximately two hours for it to buffer and it's not something you can easily stop and restart.  My life is too chaotic to conform to this kind of nonsense.

With that said, I was also frustrated with how slow it took to really get into the crux of the debate.  I think the first question was almost 10 minutes into it.  I sat through a bit of that, but I was basically not interested in any of what happened in those first ten minutes.  Let's dispense with the procedure and get on with it.  At the very least, don't televise it.

General Commentary on the Debate
Regarding the proposition, Mitchell was the only person to oppose it.  The proposition basically calls for ending the city elections and dispelling with the runoff if only six candidates run for three open positions (two per slot).  I'm voting a resounding no.  I learned a lot about the issues the last two months.  This was invaluable for me and money well-spent.  We need more time not less.  If we want to shorten the process, then we need to spend more money in less time to get awareness out there.  This is a Democracy.  You can't short-change it.

Overall, I didn't see much separation on the issues between the candidates.  Kolby Granville took more time explaining what the issues mean than the rest of the candidates.   I also loved Granville's answer on what to do with Papago Park.  This park can be and should be our Central Park.  We need to think of ways to draw more people into it.  I'm not sure how to do it and nobody really answered it.  But I've often thought this, Granville expressed it.  Foreman's answer was a bit small bore for me - too much broken glass.

I loved Granville's basic view of placing priorities especially when times are tough.  His priority is on neighborhoods.  We made bad decision in terms of code enforcement and library hours and park and pool closures.  I agree.  I also loved Foreman's answer that he believes in investment.  Foreman supports building a pool in Tempe Town Lake, something I also support.  Foreman and everyone but basically Granville supported city funding for neighborhood gardens.  This is also something I support.  However, I understand Granville's point that we just don't have the money and we need to prioritize other issues first.

Summing It Up
I think Granville showed the most passion, energy, and charisma.  He really knows the issues and this comes because of his activism and volunteerism.  He's been to every city council meeting in the past ten years, attends neighborhood association meetings and is incredibly engaged.  Foreman has the most experience by far and is also the oldest of the group.

I'm sorry, but I think the two mayor candidates were the weakest of the four.  Not too surprising, both got what they got largely on the shoulders of famous fathers.  Mitchell seems to have a better grasp of the issues, but his answers were concise and didn't show enough vision.  Monti showed vision, but he seemed sporadic and slightly sloppy in his thinking.

Monti has also been the most negative in this campaign.  I think for the most part, his negative attacks have had an important role and has been illuminating.  I think there is a place for it as long as it doesn't go too over the top.  He questioned Mitchell's trips to conferences around the nation on tax payer expense and Mitchell's prison record (he was questioned but not arrested in his 20's for some small bore issue in a bar).  I want to get to know these candidates I don't have a problem with these kinds of things.

I wish I could vote for both Granville and Foreman of the four, but I can't.

My vote will be Mitchell, Granville and No on the proposition.  Happy voting.

Last Minute Notes on the Mayor Race Part II - Debates

I've been trying to watch this debate for a while now.  I literally waited two hours for it to buffer.  Just as I was going to give up and watch something else, it started, and now I've gotta watch it.  It doesn't pause and restart well - I know I've tried in the past.  Here are my notes:

The first question is about the only proposition on the ballot, which is a really small-bore issue.  If only two people are running for one open office or for
  • Kolby Granville takes the time to explain it and supports it to save Tempe money.
  • Mitchell opposes it because if the Mayor's race requires a run-off you have to have a run-off anyway.
  • Monti supports it
  • Foreman supports it to save money.
Granville's Opening Statement:
He's lived in Tempe 20+ years.  Graduate from McClintock High.  A liveable city is a city where you can afford to live.   Tempe is a great place to live.  Becasue of the existing council, but becasue of decisions made years ago - our parks and services.  We are at a cross roads right now.    We have to make hard choices between a city where kids choose to move into and one where we need to balance the budget and entice companies to move here.

Mitchell's Opening Statement:
He wants to give back to the community. We are creator of jobs, we support the arts.  We have a great city to live in - an All-American city.  Invest in our neighborhoods.  Involved in community centers in  North Tempe and in West Tempe.

Monti's Opening Statement:
First time candidate outside of the political system.  Law degree in USDS.  Two step kids, four kids.  He was called to service after 18 years slinging steaks.  He was asked to run to succeed Hugh Halman.  He has served 100,000 customers and 100 employers.  Something new and different, a fresh perspective.  He was, at first, reluctant, but he felt honored.  He's now convinced he has what it takes.  Tempe has the university of 60,000 people.  We have disadvnatages - a crushing recession.  Innovation to save money, value what we have and bring new thoughts to Tempe.

Dick Foremon's Opening Statement
This is not just about affordability, it's about investment.  He's an investor.  He's been 30 years in Tempe and has spent 90 years of service.  Great Hearts Academy.  Six bond elections.  Four years in Tempe arts commission.  ASU alumni board.  Community Columnist for the Republic, etc., etc.

He's committed to the community.  He has spent his entire adult life serving in Tempe.

Tempe Air Traffic
Keep planes over the river bed and not over homes in Tempe.  Phoenix disagrees with this procedure.  How can we reach an agreement with Phoenix and protect Tempe homes, but we need a strong, viable aviation infrastructure.

Mitchell:  This is a legally enforceable agreement.  Mitchell has a great relationship with Phoenix mayor and council to make sure they follow the agreement.  He grew up here and he knows the issue surrounding the airport.
Monti:  This is a big issue for him. He remembers having to deal with this when calling his dad at teh restaurant.  They are supposed to be hitting that gateway on Price Road, but the planes wander over downtown Tempe.  Regionalism is important.  Monti will stand up and fight for Tempe.  We will not be a lapdog for Phoenix.  There is great opportunity with the airport.  He respects the industry.  Cut the cards and keep them honest.
Foreman:  Met with the principals who negotiated this agreement way back.  What steps to take for compliance.  Tempe loses Phoenix wins.   What can we do in Tempe to encourage Phoenix to use newer technology planes that are much quieter.  We would see a new improvement.  Military planes fly two at a time and create a lot of noise.  We have to engage on a stronger position and we have to change these definitions.
Granville:  Tempe references a corridor.  Phoenix references a gate.  Phoenix's definition, 98% meet the gate.  Tempe's definition, 30% meets the definition.  He's been to the aviation comission as a concerned citizen.  Tempe is in a week bargaining position because the Tempe and the Phoenix mayor didn't get a long.  They couldn't work it out.  The issue moving forward?  From a council standpoint - there is no big stick.  The reason that nothing changes is there is no big stick.  Give and take to a common definition or decide in court.  Nobody wants to say it.

Citizens United DecisionAre Corporations People?  Resolution from the Tempe City Council?
Will not support a resolution to amend the Constitution.  It's a grave, grave thing to ammend the Constitution.  But free speech protects speech no matter whether its an individual or an association of people.  Group has protected speech as well.  Voters will not be swayed by big money.  They can see through it.  The issue is not money, it's transparency and reform.  Is there sufficient reform and transparency.  Disclosure.  Restriction on gifts.  We need to know whose attempting to influence elected officials and how.
Foreman:  Citizens United is a slip and slide of the Constitution.  Can you have free, fare equitable elections and preserve freedom of speech.  Can candidates run without being rich?  Not just corporations, also labor unions.  We want free clean elections.  But this applies to the media.  To the stock holders too.  The best thing to do is to go with the Supreme Court.
Granville:  He is a lawyer!  Supreme Court is not right becasue they are right, they are right becasue they are last.  In 1865, 13th free slaves.  Because of the 13th amendment to free teh slaves has now been interpreted as corporations can be treated as a real person.  LLC as a corporation.  It allows individuals to pull money for a common good and to limit liability when things go wrong.  I'll be corporations is a person when Texas executes one.  Corporations are not people.  They are just not.  If you think money doesn't matter, consider people drink soda becasue of advertisement works.
Mitchell:  He's in favor of strict disclosure laws.  So people know where the money comes from.  He's not in favor of it.

As Tempe Mayor or Tempe Council Member.  Conservation Preserve Overlay over Papago Park.  Preserve Sanoran desert in the Park.  What unique policies to address the concerns of Tempe residents to preserve Papago Park land.

Foreman:   It is indeed possible to execute corporations.  No objections in defining the preserve.  Every single year there has been more degradation to Papago Park.  They gave up on a walk through the park - too much broken glass.  It's because volunteers are prohibited from picking up broken glass because of liability.  There is a great master plan.  Requires multiple jurisdiction to enforce - Indian reservation, Tempe, Scottsdale.  We need to educate to expose our kids to the amenities of Papago park.  Signage.  You don't know when you're in it, you don't know when you've left it.

Granville:  He agrees with Foremen.  He's been to the neighborhood association meetings.  There is only one archery range in Papago Park.  The land was initially deeded by the tribe on the condition it will not be used as development with rare exceptions.  The master plan is in place - it's a hard fought plan.  North Tempe spent a lot of time on that plan.  It's a cohesive plan to move the ball forward.    What's the vision of the park?  We are proud of the desert.  This is not stuff, it's the absence of stuff.  Our vision changes.  We see differently.  Papago park is a central park.  An ammenity. A draw regionally and nationally.

Mitchell:  We had committees with other mayors and councils.  He worked with a bunch of groups to create the Master Plan for Papago Park.  He's on the same page with the North Tempe Neighborhood association.  The park is an asset.  We need to preserve this asset for our community.

Monti:  He loves the park.  Stop the damage that's been done to the park.  Natural plan ordinance - to preserve and save the plants that are there.  More care. Clear brush.  Proper training.  Remove debris.  Proper branding.  Hall of Flame, Houses.  The park is amazing.  1500 acres, 300 are in Tempe.  Go to the schools in south Tempe, to show families to use public transportation to enjoy the amenities at teh park.  Engage at teh park.

What is your vision of Tempe

Granville:  Transparency and neighborhoods.   It is easy to make everyone happy with a growing budget.  We've had to retract money recently - 10% a year.  Where are our priorities?  Neighborhood grants.  Library hours.  We have dropped the ball.

Mitchell:  Tempe is a city of choice.  Largest importer of jobs per capita of every city in the valley.  Attract the right type of businesses to this city.  Neighborhoods are important.  We have strong neighborhood associations in our city.

Monti:  We can continue to grow Tempe to a higher summit.  Greater transparency.  Input is solicited from all.  Wider net cast for people to serve.  Found a new company.  Knowledge community.  Leverage ASU.  We are a good city, take us to great.

Foreman:  Education, Stability and Opportunity.  Traditional as Tempe District 3.  You will not find a better special needs children than in Tempe.  High schools - Pega Pain Academy.  Traditional Schools.  International Bacclerate Program.  ASU - business top 10.  Rio Salado - Internet and job creation.  We are second to none.

What is your Plan to increase the number of accessible renters. 

Mitchell:  In order for residents to invest in your homes, waive permit fees.  Work with affordable housing and units - one on Apache and another on Farmer.  Apache Trails.  We have strict coding enforcement.  We have had challenges with the budget.  Cross train our employees to report violations. 

Monti:  Have you ever met anyone that doesn't love a great neighborhood.  Expand grant programs to make rentals more accessible.  Make a commitment to place a high priority on code enforcement.    Constant gentle pressure on the landlords who let rentals go blighted.

Foreman:  Grants to homeowners have been succesful to a certain level.  They can't overcome 5-6 years of recession.  Many houses have gone to rental ownerships.  How many peopel are not upgrading to support disabled.  We have a large number of renters.  Get serious about looking at health and safety issues.

Granville:  He agrees with Mark.  Lots of work by Mark and Corey to make rentals more accessible.  How do we deal with rentals in general.  He was disapointed with the cutting of code enforcement.   He doesn't want an HOA.   We should be somewhere between weeds in the yard and an over-zealous HOA.  We are too close to the tigers in the weeds.

Grant money to support an indoor farm project

Monti:  He has a soft spot for big ideas.  He'd be interested in seeing what's out there.

Foreman:  In his company, he's helped build and design the largest hydroponics garden in the US.  Provide the power to grow vegetables year around.  Is there sufficient interest to works with neighborhoods to make this possible.

Granville:  He sits right now on the planning and zoning board.  Passed the urban garden amendment.   Only to the benefit of the city for unused land be used.  Would city fund an indoor garden project?  No, not right now.  We have serious funding issues that should take priority over a city funded garden.

Mitchell:  It's a great sense of pride for neighborhood gardens.  There's a lot around Tempe - a community gathering place.  We have other needs right now.  I would not stop looking to help fund community gardens.

State Legislature Interaction with the City of Tempe

Foreman:  Working with the state legislature has become more and more problematic.  The partizenship has grown too severe.  We need to be a good example to them.

Granville:   He agrees with Foreman.  The state legislature is horribly dysfunctional because it's not partizenship.  You're never going to know what party Granville is a part of because it's not relevant to clean elections.  He will work with them and has endorsed by them.

Mitchell:  He has worked for them.  Vice president for the league of cities and towns.  He can work with them.  He will get things done for Tempe and for the state of Arizona.

Monti:  Hard times sharpen contentions over resources.  Form new relationships with a clean slate.  Forgoing bitterness for what has been taken away.  Tempe's zealous advocate.

What are your thoughts on the role of civil discourse

Granville:  We've all been dissapointed with the mayor's race in regards to civil discourse.  We are taking are eye off the ball.  Where do we want to be?  Negative campaigning works.  Elections are decided by 2-3 percentage points.

Mitchell:   It's a shame that the race has gone negative.  He has a proven track record.  Let's have a frank discussion on the issues.

Monti:  When you have a real contest, things get heated.  You have to raise issues and pointed questions.  He signs his name to the things he says.  It's part of politics.  It's a clash of ideas.

Foreman:  I would rather lose a campaign by running correctly.  Independent committees do their thing. 

Taxation for Developers

Mitchell:  Developers continue to improve the quality of life for Tempe.  Revenues of a project go back into the project to recoup development costs - Tempe Marketplace.  Arizona Mills Mall.  Do not write a blank check by the tax payers.

Monti:  Too much race to the bottom.  Cities compete with each other.  We don't want to be played.  Bass Pro store gets a ton of incentives.  We need to be cautious how we use these tools.

Foreman:  He's been in business a long time.  6West found a suitor.  We cannot surrender the tax base for our schools.  We do no harm to our schools.  We do no harm to the general fund.

Granville:   Where do I fit in the political spectrum.  Business A pays taxes - Mom & Pop.  Business B gets tax incentives to moves in.  Business A goes out of business.  Diminishing caps.

What is the current level of unemployment in Tempe?  How will you get people back to work?

You can't solve this just within the city.  First Solar's HQ is in Tempe, manufacturing in Mesa.  Tempe has specific strong suits - ASU, transportation network, urban core.

Foreman:  8-10% unemployment.  Training, development, education.  Is there another city in America that trains better?  ASU, Rio Salado =>  career pathways process.  Take a student.  Map out their course of study from day one.  We got to do more of that.

Granville:  8.4 or so %.  Knowledge based economy.  With more degrees, unemployment goes down.  Net importer of jobs.  Look at the kind of jobs that are stable, long-term.  Knowledge based jobs.
Mitchell:  Tempe made good investments to deal with recession. Hayden-Ferry Lakeside is building a third building.  City surrounded by five free-ways.  We are home to Chase, Silicon Valley Bank, Monster.com, etc.

Closing Statements:

Granville:  Months and months into the campaign.  Tough choices.  When you look at the reasons you moved here.  What brought you here initially?  Choices that Tempe has made right?  90+% approval rating.  Citizenship?  The next 5, 10, 20 years, will Tempe get better or worse?  Prioritize our values and plan for our future.

Monti:  His vision for Tempe is bright.  Proprietor of the largest occupied building in Tempe.  Strong sense of origins and roots.  This city is magnificent.  We have to weather the economic times, but things will improve.  Highly educated populous relative to surrounding cities.  Light rail, proximity to the airport, highways.  An engaged populous.  This is all social capital.  Get those resources.  There is more history to be made.

Foreman:   Oldest person up here.  He has a lot of experience.  He has seen it all.  He's an investor.  The average home is 25 years old.  Customer service.  Reach these customers to maintain and preserve these neighborhoods.  Keep schools open.  Make this a better place to live.  This city will only be upfill and renovate.  Invester.  He wants to reach out and gives people a hand up.  Work with people to build consensus.  Use my network and experience to serve us.

Mitchell:  Partner with ASU to continue to work on innovation.   Vital to our recovery.  This is a cit of choice.  Continue to improve.  We have a park on almost every square mile. Invest in our parks and in our neighborhoods.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Last Minute Notes on the Mayor Race

Open Mic Notes

Monti for Mayor:
  • Swimming Pool in Tempe Town Lake
  • Volunteer Corp
  • Incentives for city employees who save money
  • Ban on texting while driving
  • Work with ASU and business community to bring in jobs.
  • Technologies to encourage green energy - like the electric car charging stations at Monti's.
Kolby Granville for Tempe City Council:

Tells an anecdote of spending the afternoon with a lady in her nineties who he met while canvassing all afternoon.  This lady really just needed a listening ear.

There's a lot of policy papers on his website:
  • Pages on graffiti
  • Pages on the street car
  • etc.
 No special interest money.   He gets money from people he knows - a lot of $25 donations.  These people want Kolby to be himself.  He has attended every city council meeting for ten straight years.   He's listened and spoken in these meetings about:
  • Cutting libraries
  • Closing pools
"Democracy is advanced leadership."

Dick Foreman for Tempe City Council

He will support our decision with great decision no matter what.

Served on bond committees, school boards.  He's the candidate that spent his time with our children.  He won't error on education.  He's a business person.  He will support investment.  He will question waste and surplus where it cannot be afforded.  City council can support jobs in Tempe.  When we restrict small business from growing, how they banner, how they can set signs out.  This cost us jobs.  This also costs us investment in our town.

He's the candidate that support investment in Tempe - ASU corridor around Rio Salado.  These are great assets in Tempe.  We need to embrace these things.

His campaign has been boring but positive. 

He has not been paid for his time on the Tempe Prep Academy, etc.

Mark Mitchell for Mayor

Serving in the city of Tempe has meant the world to him.  He's facing the most vile political attacks he's ever seen.  Sick to think about or disgust.  He has done nothing wrong not now or when he was a child.  This is politics at its worse.  He's disgusted to have to deny something so awful that's never happened.  These are all lies.

A race for mayor on the issues not on personal attacks.  These issues are too important to be ignored.
Fiscally solid with minimal impact on city services.  Thriving downtown, family friendly neighborhoods.  Good companies. 

Still a lot of work to be done.  We need to continue to invest in our neighborhoods, infrastructure.  And continue to be fiscally responsible.  Low cost, high acheiving city.  This is not a time for political games.  This is not a time to destroy lives.  Create jobs, improve neighborhoods.

Elections are held to give us each a voice to choose what comes next.

My Thoughts:

First of all, wow!  Kolby Granville was downright inspiring.  I admit Dick Foreman has more experience and time with the city, but Granville showed more passion and energy.   Mark Mitchell spent the first part of his discussion refuting some accusation that he commited a sex crime when he was 14.  He's right, it is a vile accusation and interestingly timed.  I can only take Mark at his word that he's done no wrong.  I doubt anything will come of it, from the Republic:
To date, no complaint has been filed, and experts said the prospects for a conviction may be remote given the purported victim's murky account, the lack of other evidence and myriad legal issues.
Mitchell is right, though.  Monti has run a pretty nasty and mean campaign.  There's not a significant difference between them on specific issues, but I think Mitchell wins based on his experience and detailed knowledge of city issues and the relationships he's been able to build within the valley of the sun.

Anyway, I'm convinced.  My vote will be with Mitchell and Granville tomorrow.