Daily Archives: November 9, 2008

Central Phoenix vortex of Arizona House Democratic leadership

Starbucks, Park Central Mall

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Arizona is the nation’s 6th largest state.  It sprawls across more than 110,000 square miles, from the farm fields of Yuma to the desert sands to the Coconino high country.  So The Insider thought it interesting that House Democrats chose to represent that vast geographic diversity by picking a leadership team composed of three lawmakers who live so close to each other that they probably frequent the same Starbucks.  And that’s saying something.

The incoming team of House Minority Leader David Lujan, Assistant Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema, and Minority Whip Chad Campbell live in a central Phoenix neighborhood basically bordered by Camelback on the north and Roosevelt on the south, between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street.  But Sinema swore that she and the other newly minted Dem leaders would have no trouble keeping the concerns of rural Arizonans close at heart during budget talks and other negotiations.

Why?  Well, for one, Sinema noted that she was born and raised in Tucson, and Campbell attended school in Flagstaff at Northern Arizona University. Besides that, the leadership team has agreed to take on one lawmaker from rural Arizona and another from southern Arizona who’ll serve as “close advisers and assistants.”  They’ve also already agreed to take a day trip to Tucson later this month to meet with local officials, with a subsequent trip planned to Yuma.

That’s all well and good, but Arizona’s Rural vs. Urban, Maricopa vs. Everyone Else tensions run deep.  The Insider bets it won’t take long before a rural Dem wonders aloud if the Central Phoenix Trio knows a latte from a lettuce head.

Arizona voters reject 400% interest rates overwhelmingly; the fight continues

Arizonans for Responsible Lending, a coalition of more than 200 businesses and nonprofit organizations, Democratic and Republican elected officials, religious community leaders, neighborhood leaders, consumer advocates, credit unions, and thousands of concerned citizens across Arizona (including Downtown Voices Coalition), is gratified by Tuesday’s election results.  With 99.8% of precincts reporting, Arizona voters rejected the payday industry-funded Proposition 200 by more than 330,000 votes, or a margin of 60% to 40%.  Despite being outspent by a margin of 64 to 1, Arizonans for Responsible Lending prevailed because voters reject 400 percent interest rates.  Period.

The proposition, which would have granted payday lenders the right to operate in Arizona indefinitely at 400% interest rates, lost in every single county in the state.  State Senator Debbie McCune Davis, Chair of Arizonans for Responsible Lending, issued the following statement:

“Arizona voters stated loud and clear: the payday loan industry must play by the rules.  It no longer gets to write its own.  By overwhelmingly defeating Prop 200, Arizonans sent the following message to the payday lenders both here and across the country: the days of 400% interest rates are numbered.  The people demand responsible lending laws.

Voters demanded fair and responsible lending practices in this election, and laws that look after consumers’ interests first.  In Arizona, we shall reinstate the Consumer Loan Act and reinforce a more-than-reasonable cap on interest rates of 36%.  As Tuesday’s resounding victories in both Arizona and Ohio proved, predatory lenders cannot survive when their practices are fully illuminated by the light of day.  They may attempt to get their way through heavy lobbying efforts or expensive initiative campaigns, but the voters understand that 400% interest rates are unacceptable, and they will reject such loose regulations every time.

We have won this battle, but the war is not over.  We fully expect to face an onslaught of payday industry lobbying dollars in the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, in their attempt to remove the 2010 sunset and continue charging outrageous interest rates.  However, our coalition will remain active and determined to protect the integrity of Arizona’s Consumer Loan Act and prevent the payday lenders from extending their special deal beyond 2010. Enough is enough.  We would like to thank the many people across Arizona who helped us fight this battle.   This is a victory for all of us.   And we will not rest until the usury law is back in effect and payday lenders either drop their rates to 36% or leave the state.  The days of legalized loan sharking are over.”

Taller project too damaging, north Phoenix neighbors say

The North Central Phoenix Neighborhood Association seeks support from interested Phoenix residents in opposing zoning application, #Z-33-08, that would allow the erection of three 400-foot towers near the southwest corner of Central Ave. and Camelback Rd.  The group is not against development and, in fact, supported the original height of 250 feet approved by the Phoenix City Council in 2006.

According to association members, the new plan is ill-considered and neighborhood-damaging.  Infrastructure, sewer, water, and street would be severely strained by these immense structures.  The additional traffic generated would overrun area neighborhoods that are already impacted by cut-through traffic.  Such out-scale zoning might be cited as precedent for additional mid/hi-rise intrusion.  To review, download, sign, and mail the group’s petition, click here.

Phoenix bus system keeps moving but software bugs linger

[Source: Todd R. Weiss, Computerworld] — Almost a year after deploying new computerized fare collection boxes in about 800 regional transit buses around Phoenix, the city’s Public Transit Department is still working to eliminate lingering software bugs that plague the system.  Jeff Dolfini, the city’s deputy transit director, said the problems began last December when the new system went live.   The problems centered around several software issues, including one module that controls a sensor that “reads” paper money to be sure it is authentic and to determine its value.

The machines were rejecting a large number of paper bills, leading to delays and uncollected fares.  Other software problems were making it difficult for the fareboxes to issue day passes for bus riders, as well as related transactions, Dolfini said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.  For related Arizona Republic article, click here.]