Blog Archives

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has lofty goals, little time

[Source: Lynh Bui, The Arizona Republic]

Term-limited mayor aims to lure jobs, development

When Phil Gordon gives his final State of the City address next [this] week, he’ll have nine months to accomplish some final lofty goals.

The Phoenix mayor wants to bring 35,000 new jobs to the Valley, attract a four-year university from the East Coast to downtown, and start hiring and training police officers again after a more than three-year freeze amid shrinking budgets.

But as Gordon looks to seal his mayoral legacy, the term-limited mayor faces political and economic challenges that could put those dreams out of reach.

He’ll be leading a City Council with at least four of nine members running for re-election or to fill his seat. Consensus likely will be difficult as they start posturing for their own campaigns.

At the same time, Arizona is recovering from a deep recession, and some companies are still wary of coming to the Valley because of political controversy over the state’s anti-illegal-immigrant legislation. Economic realities make new jobs and more city spending seem less likely.

Then, there’s the obvious hurdle.

“There’s not a lot of time,” said Gordon, who turns 60 in April and was first elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. “It’s going to go quickly.”

Facing a time crunch

Barry Broome, president and chief executive of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Gordon’s legacy “is sealed as a mayor that worked hard on the city’s economy.”

With less than a year left, “it’s really important for an incumbent mayor to do what he can finish,” Broome said, whether it’s completing what he started or taking care not to launch new initiatives that can’t be completed in a limited time frame.

Gordon said he will focus on three key goals:

– New development downtown.

Gordon’s time as mayor has focused on revitalizing downtown Phoenix by bringing an ASU campus and medical school to the area.

“Downtown still reflects what Phoenix is seen as, whether it’s on TV, to visitors or to businesses,” Gordon said. “They’re always coming and seeing the heart of our community.”

He said he now is working on bringing a new county teaching hospital to downtown and developing public-private partnerships to fund Arizona State University’s law school, planned for Taylor and First streets. He said he also aims to develop a marketing district around the downtown sports venues to attract more people and retail by lighting up the streets with electronic billboards and animated signs.

The Legends Entertainment District could open as soon as July, when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game lands in Phoenix.But the hospital and other major downtown development may not come to life, said Martin Shultz, a Valley business leader who also worked as a chief of staff to several past Phoenix mayors.

“The odds are highly probable that that’s not going to happen,” Shultz said. Although there may be some announcements about new development downtown, the economy will be a major stumbling block, he said.

ASU President Michael Crow said it will be at least another year and a half before significant progress is made on the law school.

– Job creation.

Earlier this year, Gordon announced that he would work with Gov. Jan Brewer to bring more than 35,000 new jobs to the Valley.

But those efforts may be stalled. Gordon was hoping at least one-third of those jobs would come from a Chinese manufacturing company looking to bring 10,000 jobs to Phoenix. Landing the company, which Gordon declined to identify, could establish a workforce on par with what Intel or Honeywell International has in the Valley. Recently, however, talks with the company have stalled, Gordon said.

Gordon also has been increasing trade talks with foreign countries, hoping to sway companies from places such as Mexico and the Middle East to invest in Phoenix. But, he said, it will be challenging for Arizona, which is still suffering from image problems because of tough, anti-illegal-immigrant laws the state Legislature approved in recent years.

– Hiring police.

When Gordon campaigned for mayor in 2003, he vowed to make Phoenix “the safest city in America” and was a rallying force behind two public-safety taxes voters approved to expand the police force.

But because of budget cuts, reduced sales-tax revenue and a citywide hiring freeze, the city hasn’t hired recruits since 2008, leaving the Police Department with more than 500 vacancies for sworn officers.

Gordon wants to find ways to lift the hiring freeze to, at minimum, keep the vacancies from going much beyond 500 positions.

“We’ve got to stop the hemorrhaging,” Gordon said.

To pay for it, Gordon said, he is considering cutting other city programs, dipping into contingency funds or raising revenue by seeking a new public-safety tax or adding a surcharge on criminal tickets.

While police have been in a hiring freeze, city crime rates in every major category have dropped to the lowest they’ve been since the 1980s, a trend Gordon said he wants to maintain.

Proposing a public-safety tax would be politically challenging, Gordon said, but “somebody’s got to stand up and talk about this.”

“By maintaining quality of life and maintaining public safety, it makes us more competitive economically,” Gordon said.

Politicians may not have the appetite to support tax increases in the middle of an election year, especially after the city made painful cuts to shore up a $277 million budget shortfall last year.

Councilwoman Peggy Neely, who is considering running for mayor, said that Phoenix has managed to reduce crime rates despite the budget shortfalls and that it may not be the right time to consider a tax or hire officers.

She said Phoenix has done a good job of managing with the resources it has so far.

“We’ve put ourselves on a financial diet, and we have to stay on that track until we see the economy coming back to a level where we are confident our taxes are going to increase,” Neely said.

‘Keep a steady hand’

Shultz said Gordon should work on maintaining stability in the city, especially because Phoenix is poised to see a drastic shift in leadership by the end of the year.

“All he has to do is keep a steady hand on guiding Phoenix out of the Great Recession and into the next chapter of our history,” Shultz said. “If there’s not any great flare-up, he can leave office and go down as a very active mayor who focused on the development of downtown, the economy and jobs.”

Paul Barnes, head of the Neighborhood Coalition of Phoenix, said the City Council is already becoming politically fractured as some members prepare for the Aug. 30 election.

Most recently, council members were divided on whether to remove Police Chief Jack Harris from overseeing the daily operations of the Police Department. He had come under fire amid questions about the credibility of kidnapping statistics the city used to win a $1.7 million federal grant. Gordon and other council members threw their unequivocal support to Harris after news of Harris’ reassignment spread. But several other elected officials supported the city manager’s decision to oust Harris until the city and the federal government complete a probe of the numbers.

“You’re seeing the chaos now,” Barnes said. “You see it in how the affair with Harris got politicized.”

Building consensus will be important for Gordon if he wants to see his policy agenda come to life. The council will also have to reach consensus on other issues, including how to close a fiscal 2011-12 general-fund deficit estimated to range from $50 million to $80 million.

“Whatever Phil is going to be able to get done will be difficult because nine months in government is a blink of an eye,” said former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, a longtime friend of Gordon’s. “He can get his agenda done, but he has to position it in such a way that it’s helpful for the people running for mayor and council.”

But Gordon already has achieved significant success in office through conceiving the partnership with ASU and downtown and bringing it to life during his time as mayor, Johnson said.

“Phil has one of the best legacies of any mayor I know,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, he doesn’t recognize that. Now, he needs to realize that he should focus on delivering a financially well-run city and to help hand over the reins of leadership to the next mayor.

“He needs to help make the new mayor and council successful.”

SIDE BAR: Phoenix’s government

Phoenix has a council-manager form of government.

The city manager, not the mayor, is in control of administrative duties such as preparing a budget, hiring and firing department heads and running the day-to-day operations of the city.

In Phoenix, the mayor is one vote out of nine council members. The mayor and City Council’s can hire or fire only the city manager.

Some cities, such as Chicago or New York, have a strong-mayor form of government, where the mayor has much power over the city’s daily administration.

Mayoral Candidate Wes Gullett to Hold Town Hall on Mar 8

NOTE: The Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) does not endorse any candidates, and invites all candidates to submit information on any town hall question and answer event in which they participate.

What is important is that voters be informed, AND VOTE.

___________

[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix]

Announcement of a Mayoral Candidate Town Hall Meeting

Many I have talked to feel that Phoenix needs changing and that Neighborhoods, Businesses and Citizens all over the city are being harmed by present policies and direction.

This August, we will be electing a new Mayor.  Wes Gullett is one of the candidates.  He will be holding a town hall style meeting on 3/8/11 as follows:

Mountain View Lutheran Church
11002 S. 48th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85044
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

This event is NOT a fundraiser.  It is an opportunity for you to ask the hard questions on the issues that matter to you and hear the vision for the City of a candidate who could be our next mayor.  As other candidates may schedule similar town hall meetings, we shall endeavor to so inform you.

Please plan on attending on Tuesday, March 8th.  Even if you don’t ask a single question and just listen to others and watching Gullett interact with the crowd, you will have a better basis for voting than you otherwise would have.

In the last Mayoral/Council election only 11% of the city’s voters chose our Mayor and Council persons in the odd numbered districts.  This is a pathetic turnout in any city, never mind in a city the size of Phoenix.  Don’t let 11% of the voters, many driven by special interest groups – decide who your next Mayor will be?  Attend candidate town hall meetings when they are scheduled and then show up to vote.

Please send this email to your friends and members of your associations and Coalitions.

This announcement which should not be construed as an endorsement consistent with the commitment to attempt to advise whenever a mayoral candidate schedules a town hall type meeting.  The first such meeting was held by Greg Stanton.

Thank you,

Paul Barnes

Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix


Reminder: Greg Stanton to Hold Town Hall this Wednesday

NOTE: The Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) does not endorse any candidates, and invites all candidates to submit information on any town hall question and answer event in which they participate.

What is important is that voters be informed, AND VOTE.

 

Mayoral Candidate Greg Stanton to Hold Town Hall on Feb 16.

NOTE: The Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) does not endorse any candidates, and invites all candidates to submit information on any town hall question and answer event in which they participate.

What is important is that voters be informed, AND VOTE.

___________

[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix]

Take Back Your City

Many I have talked to feel that Phoenix needs changing and that Neighborhoods, Businesses and Citizens all over the city are being harmed by present policies and direction.

This August, we will be electing a new Mayor.  Greg Stanton is one of the candidates.  As indicated in the flyer forwarded herewith, Stanton will be holding a town hall style meeting on Wednesday, February 16th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.  It will be held at the Biltmore Church of the Nazarene located at 5604 N. 24th Street, Phoenix, 85016.  This event is NOT a fundraiser or just a meet and greet.  It is an opportunity for you to ask the hard questions on the issues that matter to you and hear the vision for the City of a candidate who could be our next Mayor.  As other candidates may schedule similar town hall meetings, we shall endeavor to so inform you.

Please plan on attending on Wednesday, February 16th.  Even if you don’t ask a single question and just listen to others and watching Stanton interact with the crowd, you will have a better basis for voting than you otherwise would have.

In the last Mayoral/Council election only 11% of the city’s voters chose our Mayor and Council persons in the odd numbered districts.  This is a pathetic turnout in any city, never mind in a city the size of Phoenix.  Don’t let 11% of the voters, many driven by special interest groups – decide who your next Mayor will be.  Attend candidate town hall meetings when they are scheduled and then show up to vote.

Let’s take charge of the future of Phoenix.

Thank you,

Paul Barnes

Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, 602-840-1579

City of Phoenix Meetings and Events, Jan 24-30th

[Source: City of Phoenix Public information Office, 602-262-7176


Monday, Jan. 24

Bus Service Changes go into effect

Check valleymetro.org or call Valley Metro Customer Service at 602-253-5000

 

Tuesday, Jan. 25

10. a.m.       City Council Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee

Phoenix City Hall, 12th floor, City Council Subcommittee Room, 200 W. Washington St.,

Stephanie Ribodal Romero, 602-261-8512


2 p.m.      Phoenix City Council Work Study Session

Phoenix City Hall, 12th Floor, City Council Subcommittee Room, 200 W. Washington St.,

Stephanie Ribodal Romero, 602-261-8512

 

5:30 – 7 p.m.       College Depot Workshop

“Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Lab and Workshop,”

Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.,

Rita Marko, 602-534-2025

 

6 p.m.      Alhambra Village Planning Committee

Washington Activity Center, 2240 W. Citrus Way,

Michael Hammett, 602-495-5405

 

Wednesday, Jan. 26

6 – 7 p.m.      College Depot Workshop

“It’s Not Too Early to Plan for College: 7th and 8th Graders,”

Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave.,

Rita Marko, 602-534-2025

 

The meetings listed here are accurate as of Friday, Jan. 21.  For possible changes and additional city meetings, visit phoenix.gov/publicmeetings.

 

Ruth Osuna Leaves Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture

[Source: Phoenix New Time’ Jackalope Ranch]

Ruth Osuna. Photo credit: New Times

New Times has received a Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture memo stating that Ruth Osuna is leaving her recently appointed post as cultural affairs director of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture for a position in Eloy.

Osuna will become the city manager of Eloy, located in Pinal County, beginning December 6.

Osuna worked as Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s chief of staff before she was replaced at the end of 2008 by Toni Maccarone, who now works in the Public Information Office.

From there, Osuna landed a position as deputy city manager, a job she had held previously, before taking the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture gig in March 2010, when the city manager’s office cut its staff by one third.

New Times‘ request for official comment from Osuna, who held the cultural affairs director position for eight months, as well as Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture staff, went unanswered.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, which exists to develop arts and cultural awareness in the city, has completed close to 150 major public-art programs, including the Gimme Shelter Shade and the 7th Avenue Streetscape projects.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

City of Phoenix Seeking Public Input on Reverse Lanes

On July 7th, 2010, the committee members of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Reverse Lanes were selected. The Ad Hoc Task Force on Reverse Lanes was created to work with City staff to review all available studies conducted on the reverse lane issue, consider new alternatives, and through consensus, bring forth written recommendations to the City Council no later than December 31, 2010.

Teresa Stickler, owner of Melrose Pharmacy on 7th Ave, was selected as District 4’s representative , and is to serve as Chairperson. There will be three town-hall meetings where the public can discuss their opinions on the reverse lanes.

The times and locations for the meetings are:

Tuesday, September 28, 6:00 PM
Memorial Hall at the Steele Indian School Park
300 East Indian School Road

Wednesday, October 6, 6:00 PM
Sunnyslope Community Center Multipurpose Room
802 East Vogel

Thursday, October 7, 6:00 PM
Lookout Mountain Elementary School Cafeteria
15 West Coral Gables Drive

It is important that residents come to the town-hall meetings to give their opinions, whether they are for or against the reverse lanes. All of the committee members need to know the opinions of the people affected by the reverse lanes. The committee members will hear input from people who use the reverse lane for commuting as well as people who live near the lanes.

This is the last chance for public opinion.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bicycle Boulevard Neighborhood Meeting THURSDAY!

Sorry for the extremely short notice, but the DVC has caught wind that there will be a City of Phoenix hosted ‘bicycle boulevard’ neighborhood meeting tomorrow (THURSDAY) at City Hall in downtown Phoenix.

Come out and participate in this neighborhood meeting with the City to work on a new bicycle lane and path project in Phoenix that will connect the Phoenix Public Market with Gateway Community College and the 15th Avenue bike lane.

Please help spread the word to others who’d like to attend!

Details:

Date: September 16, 2010

Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Location: 200 W. Washington St. 1st Floor, Assembly Room A (map)

There is a Facebook invite HERE.

(Thanks to Taz Loomans at Blooming Rock for the heads up!)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike

Visiting the murals in the alley behind 5th St. near Roosevelt (photo source: Tony Arranaga)

[Source: LightRailBlogger.com] — I took my neighbors on a hour long bike tour of downtown Phoenix.  Mike and Jane were not too familiar with the backstory to some of the historic sights in our urban core, so it was fun to give them some background on the landmarks in the heart of the city.

We started in the Evans Churchill neighborhood near 4th Street and Fillmore.  We visited the community garden near Conspire Coffee and the murals in the alley behind 5th Street near Roosevelt in the arts district.  Mike, Jane and I then went to the Phoenix Public Market, the Westward Ho and Civic Space Park.  Our tour then continued south on 1st Avenue to see the Orpheum Lofts, 44 Monroe and the old City Hall.

Next. we made our way over to Hanny’s Restaurant, which used to be home to a high end department store back in the day.  We then stopped by St. Mary’s Basilica where Pope John Paul II visited several years ago.  Our trip ended at Heritage Square and then we stoppped for a bite to eat at Front Row – TGIFriday’s restaurant inside Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play ball.

How did I do?  Where would you take friends or out of town guests to explore the heart of Phoenix?  [Note: Read the full blog entry at Touring downtown Phoenix… by bike.]

Issues and challenges facing Phoenix’s next City Manager

From Bob Murray & Associates, the official executive search firm in charge of collecting candidates to replace Frank Fairbanks, here are the highlighted issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the new Phoenix City Manager:

“The severe recession that began in 2007 has had a significant impact on the City of Phoenix.  The FY 2009/10 General Fund budget shortfall of $269.7 million has been met by service and program reductions of $156 million.  Another $113.7 million in savings was realized by shifting some pay as you go capital investments to lease purchase.  The decline in sales tax revenue, which began in the fall of 2007, has had the greatest impact of the financial resources available to the City of Phoenix. Authorized positions have been reduced by a total of 1,073.

In the long term, the City Council is concerned about the City’s future revenue base and how that can be balanced among different revenue sources more effectively.  The City Council realizes the need for a broader local economy in the City. Economic Development will play a key role in the diversification of the economy.

Infrastructure needs from transportation to water supply will continue to demand the attention of the City.  Developing a long term strategy to insure the integrity of the City as it grows will be key to the future of Phoenix.

Phoenix recognizes that is has grown in its diversity and will continue to do so.  As a City it has embraced its differences and has encouraged working as a team to reach its greatest potential.”

Interested in applying?  Click here.