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Local experts and national author to discuss state of sustainability in metro Phoenix, Jan. 17

A panel of local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City,” will discuss the current state of sustainability in metropolitan Phoenix at a public forum on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The event, free to the public, will be held at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at 415 E. Grant Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., panel discussion 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., audience Q&A 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and reception with complimentary refreshments 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Panel moderator will be Charles Redman, Arizona State University (ASU) Virginia M. Ullmann professor of Natural History and the Environment and founding director of the ASU School of Sustainability. The current slate of panelists (with two to be added soon) includes:

  • Maria Baier, state land commissioner, Arizona;
  • Steve Betts, former president/CEO of SunCor Development and current Arizona District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute;
  • Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and former Arizona attorney general who now teaches a course at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus: “Phoenix and the Art of Public Decision Making;”
  • Taz Loomans, architect and writer/blogger on sustainability issues;
  • Kris Mayes, former commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission and current director of the ASU Law and Sustainability Program and professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law;
  • Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.
  • Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance, Raza Development Fund

According to Susan Copeland, steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, “Issues of sustainability are paramount to the future of Phoenix. Ross’ book is a great springboard from which to begin, or continue, discussion.”

The Downtown Voices Coalition is sponsoring the event with in-kind support from the Lexington Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Four Peaks Brewery of Tempe and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Bird on Fire” is available at Made Art Boutique, 922 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix and at Changing Hands Bookstore at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. It is also available at Burton Barr, Cesar Chavez and Mesquite Branch libraries in Phoenix.

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown. For more information, visit downtownvoices.org.

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.]