Daily Archives: August 12, 2008

Miffed about your utility bills? Vote carefully for Arizona Corporation Commissioners

[Source: Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic] — Winners of the three open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission will have a strong voice on issues ranging from the size of utility bills to global warming, power plants, and transmission lines.  The winners will help form a new majority on the board, which has more control than any other state entity over energy policies at Arizona’s utilities.

Three of the five current commissioners are leaving office after finishing their terms: Chairman Mike Gleason, Jeff Hatch-Miller, and William Mundell.  The race is getting much more attention than usual, perhaps because of the rising power costs and state’s growing energy demand.  A dozen candidates, eight Republicans and four Democrats, are vying for the seats.

Commissioners Kris Mayes and Gary Pierce ultimately will have three newcomers to help them sort out the commission’s busy and often contentious agenda, which includes:

  • Debate and a legal challenge to the ACC requirement that utilities get 15% of electricity from renewable sources like solar power.
  • The type of power plants utilities build — coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar — and where.
  • A pending rate-hike request from the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co.
  • Power lines, including a debated high-voltage connection between California and Arizona.

The commissioners also make decisions regarding railroad crossings, a hot-button issue recently as Union Pacific expands its tracks in the state and residents fight to get the company to build underpasses or overpasses at busy intersections.  If that weren’t enough, the commission also investigates securities fraud.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Mortgages Ltd. plans legal action against borrowers; downtown Phoenix Hotel Monroe targeted

Nick Oza, Arizona Republic[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — Bankrupt real-estate lender Mortgages Ltd. plans to begin foreclosing on properties being developed by two of its largest borrowers.  John Clemency, an attorney representing Mortgages Ltd., said in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday that the company plans to take action against Grace Communities and Rightpath Ltd. Development Group LLC.  Mortgages Ltd. claims the borrowers are in default on loan payments.

Grace has five loans from Mortgages Ltd., including ones for the construction of Hotel Monroe in downtown Phoenix and X Wine Lofts near downtown Scottsdale.  Rightpath has three loans from Mortgages Ltd. for the development of Main Street Glendale, a mixed-use sports and entertainment project on 500 acres near University of Phoenix Stadium.  Both companies deny being in default and are suing Mortgages Ltd. in Maricopa County Superior Court.  They allege in separate lawsuits that the lender did not fully fund their loans.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Funding setback for light-rail metro Phoenix expansion?

[Source: Ron Sanzone, Arizona Republic] — Unless an appeal to get Proposition 203 on the ballot succeeds, light rail will lose a chance to win hundreds of millions of dollars for the system’s expansion.  The Secretary of State’s office announced Monday that the Arizona measure to raise $42.6 billion in transportation funds through a 1 cent sales tax increase did not receive enough valid signatures to qualify for November’s ballot.  Transportation and Infrastructure Moving Arizona’s Economy, the organization that wrote the TIME Act, as the initiative is also known, is expected to appeal the decision.

If the appeal succeeds and voters approve the new tax, Maricopa County would receive $600 million for what the Arizona Department of Transportation categorizes as “light rail, modern streetcar, and related high capacity transit.”  According to TIME, up to $400 million of that money would go to expanding the Valley’s light rail system.  However, ADOT says that it would decide along with Maricopa Association of Governments how to allocate the full $600 million that includes the light rail project in the county.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Some ASU students fear lack of campus vibe in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Kelly McGrath, Arizona Republic] — Not everybody is thrilled about Arizona State University’s push to expand its downtown Phoenix campus.  Some students are unhappy about leaving the Tempe campus. The main complaint: There is no college atmosphere in downtown Phoenix.  ASU’s College of Public Programs, University College and College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation have moved downtown.  The Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication joined them last month.  “How will students be able to get involved on campus with things such as Greek life when they are located 20 miles away on the downtown campus?” recent ASU graduate Katie Gardiner asked.

Nursing school officials say the move has had a positive effect on the college’s facilities and learning environment.  “The facilities are larger than we had on the Tempe campus, and we have room for expansion,” said Terry Olbrysh, director of marketing and communication for the nursing school.  The college broke ground this summer for its second building, which will have classrooms and allow students a central gathering point, Olbrysh added.

Nursing student Julie Reen agrees that new buildings and technology are helpful, but she has concerns.  “The downtown campus does not have a college atmosphere at all,” she said.  Reen began her commute to Phoenix last school year and will continue to travel there until she graduates in two years.  She said that when she applied, ASU told her she would have to move downtown by her junior year.  “If I was told I would have to go downtown my freshman year, I would have chosen a different college because I feel that it is important to have the college-campus atmosphere for a while,” Reen said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

View downtown Phoenix’s historic properties

Thanks to the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, find all of downtown Phoenix’s historic properties between 7th Avenue to 7th Street, McDowell to Buckeye Roads.  This map — Downtown Phoenix Historic Properties — is intended to identify above-ground historic properties only (not below-ground archaeological resources).