Daily Archives: June 16, 2009

Phoenix leaders to fill city council vacancy… again

Arizona's new State Land Commissioner, Maria Baier

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Here we go again… Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision Tuesday to tap Maria Baier as state land commissioner leaves another vacancy on the Phoenix City Council.  Just a few months ago, the council appointed Sal DiCiccio to replace Councilman Greg Stanton, who resigned to take a top job in Attorney General Terry Goddard’s office.  Twenty-two people had applied for the vacant seat.  Baier, who has represented District 3 on the council since January 2008, plans [resigned] her seat at 5 p.m. Wednesday.  The council will have to appoint an interim replacement between June 29 and July 2, according to the city charter.

Those interested in applying for the vacancy should contact the City Clerk’s Office at 602-262-6837.  Applicants must be a registered voter and live in the district, which includes the Sunnyslope, Moon Valley, and Shadow Mountain neighborhoods and the area around Paradise Valley Mall.  Because Baier has more than one year left on her term, the council must call for a special election no sooner than Nov. 3.  Voters in the district will then determine who will complete Baier’s term, which ends in January 2012.

Baier said things happened suddenly. She got a call from the Governor’s Office last Saturday asking for references and other background check information.  By Monday, Brewer had offered her the job.  The councilwoman said it will be bittersweet leaving the city after such a short time in office.  “It was the greatest priviledge of my life to serve the residents of District 3.  I haven’t met a more thoughtful and kind group of people in my life,” Baier said.  “But I’m going to continue to serve the residents of District 3 and many other folks across the state as state land commissioner.”

Mayor Phil Gordon called Baier “one of our council’s brightest stars” and said her successor will need to be ready on Day 1.  “These are challenging times that require strong and immediate leadership,” he said.  “I will be supporting the best-qualified candidate to fill a pair of shoes that need to hit the ground running from the first minute of the first day.”  [Note: To read the full article and online comments, click here.]

Metro Phoenix public transit costs to increase July 1

[Source: Doug Murphy, Ahwatukee Foothills News] — In two weeks fares on the Valley’s public transit system will jump, with the local all-day ticket for a bus or light rail increasing a buck from $2.50 to $3.50.  But the kicker is that if you buy the ticket on a bus with cash, the price jumps from $2.50 to $5.25.  For RAPID riders like Mel Hannah, who catches a bus at Pecos Park and Ride, 40th Street and Pecos Road, the surcharge on an all-day pass will be even more.  An all-day pass purchased in advance will cost $5.50, while the same ticket will cost $7.25 if riders wait until they board.  New rates start July 1.

Hannah understands the need for the basic fare increase to help make ends meet.  “I can somewhat understand the rational since all levels of government are going through a budget crisis,” said Hannah, who rides the bus almost daily from his home in Ahwatukee Foothills to his job with the Greater Phoenix Urban League, near downtown Phoenix.  His problem is the extra charge for people who buy their ticket when they board.  “The fee to buy on the bus is tremendously higher than if you buy in advance,” Hannah said.

The extra fee is a calculated strategy to encourage people to buy their tickets in advance and prevent delays in boarding as riders search for change.  According to transit officials, that’s exactly the idea.  “We want to encourage our bus passengers to purchase their one-day fares online or at fare vending machines, transit centers or at retail outlets,” said David Boggs, Valley Metro executive director.  “This will help speed up the boarding of our buses.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]