Daily Archives: April 15, 2008

Laveen development foes win key battle

Rural nature of Laveen, AZ[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Residents hoping to stop a large-scale apartment and townhouse project in Laveen have won a key victory in getting their referendum on the ballot.  A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Phoenix should process the signatures they gathered earlier this year in an effort to stop construction of the project at 27th Avenue and Baseline Road.  Neighbors say the project is too dense and will worsen existing problems with traffic and school overcrowding.  At issue is how many signatures are required for residents to refer a City Council decision to the ballot.

Phoenix argued that residents must submit signatures equivalent to 10 percent of votes in the last citywide election.  The city says the last citywide election was in September, which included the mayor’s race and a ballot initiative to fund more police and fire personnel.  By that standard, 9,798 valid signatures would be needed.

The neighbors say the relevant election was in November, when two council races had runoffs.  If Judge Richard Trujillo’s ruling is upheld, residents would need only 2,727 signatures.  Residents are confident they have that many.  By lowering the threshold to refer a council decision, the ruling could encourage more residents to take their case to the voters.  “If we’re successful, this will definitely change the landscape of future referendum drives,” said Randy Jones, who organized the petition drive against Berkana. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Stop SB1192 revised to cut state arts funding

[Source: Brenda Sperduti, Arizona Citizens for the Arts] — The sponsors of Senate Bill 1330 have attached the language dissolving the Arts Trust fund to an unrelated bill Senate Bill 1192.  The procedure, called a “strike everything” amendment allows the original bill which stalled in the Senate, to gain new life and will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

The new bill, SB 1192, would cause a permanent reduction to the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA) grants budget of 40% (approx. $1.6 million annually).  SB 1192 proposes the transfer of Arts Trust Fund receipts that ACA has received since 1989 to the Department of Mines for safety issues surrounding abandoned mines.

NOW it is time to let every member in the House of Representatives know how strongly you feel about this attempt to decimate arts funding in Arizona.  The programs funded by the ACA are crucial to every community in our state and there is no justification for sweeping money from the arts as an answer to the public safety issue of abandoned mines.

Contact your Representative and tell them to vote NO on SB 1192.  Use the automated e-mail message AzCA has prepared by clicking here or, better yet, send your own message or make a phone call today!  Phone numbers and other contact information can be found by clicking here.

Please share this ACTION ALERT with other art advocates you know.

Sheraton Phoenix bonds attract only so-so rating

[Source: Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — The new high-rise hotel taking shape in downtown Phoenix has received a so-so rating on its bonds.  Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a Baa3 grade to $157 million in senior revenue bonds issued by the city’s Downtown Phoenix Hotel Corp. to build and furnish the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, north of the convention center.  “The assignment of the low investment-grade rating to the senior bonds reflects the competitive nature of the hotel industry coupled with its demonstrated vulnerability to economic cycles as well as the limited performance history of publicly financed hotel projects,” Moody’s said in a report.

An additional $193 million in revenue bonds attached to the project received a higher A2 rating from Moody’s.  They’re backed by hotel revenues and city sports-facilities taxes.