Daily Archives: December 14, 2008

Quote of the Day: “It’s a ghost town”

“Steffin Newman, a downtown [Phoenix] ambassador employed by merchants to assist visitors, said he often sends tourists to Scottsdale and Tempe when they ask about night life.  ‘Since I started here six months ago, it’s looked like recession to me,’ he sighed.  ‘It’s a ghost town.'”

Since Steffin’s comments appeared in the December 12 USA Today, apparently he’s been suspended.

Twitting the Phoenix arts & culture scene

Want the latest news (and perhaps gossip) about the metro Phoenix arts and culture scene?  Well go high-tech with one of the latest social media tools, Twitter, to follow what’s happening.  Here’s a sampling:

If you know of other local individuals and organizations “twitting” on this topic, feel free to reply back and we’ll add them to the list.

To raise revenues, City Hall plans to target delinquent Phoenix taxpayers

Tax Collector

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Amid a staggering budget crisis, Phoenix is moving forward with the first of a handful of ideas to generate revenue for the city: get businesses to pay their taxes. City Council members voted last week to give city staff members more tools to be able to track down some of the 15,000 taxpayers with missing tax returns, delinquent tax payments, or late tax-license fees.  Those tools include automated computer systems that will notify taxpayers of delinquent payments by mail or phone, as well as stiffer collection fees and tax liens.  The measures, which will take effect in January, are expected to haul in $650,000 a year for the city.  But that will offer only minor relief as city officials aim to slash an estimated $250 million from Phoenix’s $1.2 billion general fund by spring.

Improving tax collections is just one of ten proposals a 25-member city task force came up with this year to generate more money for the city.  The group’s charge is to raise $7.5 million by June 2010.  Other ideas being explored are:

  • leasing space on city properties for cellphone towers
  • increasing parking-meter rates
  • creating a Phoenix credit card that would give the city a percentage of each purchase
  • eBay-type auctions for surplus city-owned land to attract more bidders

[Note: to read the full article, click here.  What ideas do you have?  Don’t reply back!  Give a shout to task force co-chairs David Krietor or Ed Zuercher.  Story background here.]

Light rail stations feature art to connect with 20 miles of communities

Additionally, highly detailed, carved granite benches will provide shaded seating on the platform.

Light rail art and seating, downtown Phoenix (Photo: Dave Seibert, Arizona Republic)

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The opening of the 20-mile Metro light-rail system on Dec. 27 will coincide with one of the Valley’s biggest art openings in recent years: $6.3 million in sculptures, tiles, and other elements that adorn every station on the line.  Some of the art is monumental, like the giant stone ring sculpture installed at Central Avenue and Camelback Road.  Other pieces are more subtle, like the terrazzo floor at First Avenue and Jefferson Street that features an image of Sandra Day O’Connor, the former U.S. Supreme Court justice from Arizona.  Taken together, though, they bring poetry to the prosaic world of mass transit. “The art helps to tell a story,” said Eric Iwersen, a Tempe planner who sat on the board that oversaw the art program.  “It helps to set us apart from any other system in the world.”

The story that Metro’s art tries to tell is the story of the Valley. Across the line, pieces reflect the neighborhoods around them.  A river-like canopy at Priest Drive and Washington Street in Tempe echoes the nearby Rio Salado.  At Central and Indian School Road, glass panels set into the entryway feature historic photographs of the area.  “It’s really about bringing the character of that community into the station so that we are a reflection of the community,” said Rick Simonetta, CEO of Metro light rail.  More than two dozen artists from around the country contributed to the system’s aesthetic features, with about 40% of them Arizona natives.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]