Blog Archives

Bike to Work Day in Downtown Phoenix – April 20th

[Source: Maricopa County]

Bike to Work Day

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The City of Phoenix and Maricopa County invite bike and multi-modal bike commuters to a downtown celebration. Free breakfast to the first 175 pre-registered riders, plus t-shirts, prizes, and give-aways. Join Valley Metro, Maricopa County Air Quality, and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about transit options, pollution, and helmet safety.

8:00 a.m. post-ride celebration at Phoenix City Hall, 200 West Washington

Two Ways to Participate:

  • Option 1: Meet riders at Park Central Mall, 3100 North Central between 7-7:30 a.m. for a police-escorted bike ride to the reception. Parking at the mall is permitted. Ride departs at 7:30 a.m.
  • Option 2: Solo bike or multi-modal bike via transit directly to Phoenix City Hall.

Download Registration form and additional information

Arizona voter registration deadline at Midnight

[Via About.com]

If you want to vote in the primary election on August 24, 2010 today is the last day to register. You have until midnight to do it. If you have an Arizona driver license or official ID, you can register online. Otherwise, you can download the registration form and hand-deliver it to the County Recorder’s Office in downtown Phoenix at 111 S. 3rd St (map).

If you aren’t sure if you are registered to vote or not, you can check that here.

How To Register to Vote in Arizona:

  1. In order to register to vote, you must be a citizen of the United States and 18 years of age or older preceding the next general election.
  2. To register to vote in Arizona, you must be a resident of Arizona 29 days preceding the next general election.
  3. You must not have been convicted of a felony or treason, or if so, your civil rights must have been restored. You must not have been declared incompetent by a court.
  4. Proposition 200, passed by the voters of Arizona at the 2004 General Election requires that proof of citizenship must be submitted with all new voter registration forms. One of the items listed here is all you need to fulfill this requirement.
  5. If you meet the requirements in steps 1-4, there are four ways you can register to vote: print a form, request a form, pick up a form, or register online.
  6. You can print a voter registration form from your computer.
  7. Mail the completed form to: Maricopa County Recorder, 111 S. 3rd Avenue, STE 102, Phoenix, AZ 85003-2294.
  8. You can have a voter registration form mailed to you by calling 602-506-1511, T.D.D. 602-506-2348.
  9. You can obtain voter registration forms from any Elections office in Maricopa County, or from a City or Town Clerk’s office.
  10. You can also obtain voter registration forms from libraries throughout Maricopa County, at some banks, at some grocery stores and at U. S. Post Offices.
  11. If you have an Arizona driver license or official non-operating identification license, you can register to vote online at this web site.
  12. If you are registered to vote in Arizona, you must register again if you moved from one residence to another, if you have changed your name or if you want to change political parties.

Tips:

  1. If you are a registered voter you will receive voter information packets well before any election.
  2. If you don’t receive voter information, your address on file might not be correct and you should contact the County Election Department.
  3. You should receive a voter registration card in the mail after your application has been processed.
  4. Prior to an election, you will receive information in the mail directing you where to go to vote in that upcoming election.
  5. Make sure you have the proper identification with you when you go to the polls to vote.
Enhanced by Zemanta

2,000 U.S. Census jobs still remain in Maricopa County

[Source: Austen Sherman, Arizona Republic] — Opportunity still remains for those interested in applying for one of the more than 2,000 remaining U.S. Census jobs in Maricopa County.  Lorene Georgianni, director of recruiting for the census’ downtown Phoenix office, said the number of applicants has been lower than expected so far for a total of 8,000 census positions.  The five census offices in the county are coming up short of their recruiting goals despite an Arizona unemployment rate of 9.1 percent in December.

Among the reasons: Potential applicants have been deterred by concerns about losing unemployment benefits while working for the census on such a temporary basis.  Others have applied who are not permanent citizens, which is a requirement for employment.  Al Nieto, local census office manager for Phoenix, said that as long as the state Department of Public Safety is made aware of the temporary status of the job, benefits only will be suspended until the census is complete.

The work is simple, and the pay is good, as workers will receive between $11.25 and $16.50 per hour.  To apply, those interested should call 1-866-861-2010. Callers will be asked to enter their ZIP code and directed to the office in their area.  Applicants then schedule an appointment that usually lasts around two hours.

At the appointment, applicants will be asked to fill out an application and an I-9 form, as well as complete a 30-minute, 28-question exam.  The test has five parts: Clerical skills, reading skills, number skills, evaluating alternatives, and organizational skills.  It is a general-knowledge exam and applicants know their score before they leave.  If they are unhappy with their score, they are given the opportunity to re-test  Once all is completed each applicant is run through an FBI background check before they are officially declared eligible.  Job offers will be made beginning at the end of March.

Potential applicants can prepare themselves at http://www.2010censusjobs.gov, where there is a practice exam to give them an idea of what to expect.  The majority of available jobs are part-time, with a few being full-time.  However, all jobs are temporary, lasting only while the census is being conducted.

Most of the jobs will be in two positions.  Enumerators are expected to go out in to the field to follow up on those homes who do not return their form.  Clerks work in the office supporting those out in the field.  There are also a limited number of jobs as recruiting assistants and as crew leaders, who are in charge of the enumerators.  Vangent Inc., is also looking to hire about 300 part-time employees to help with the census. The company has contracted with Lockheed Martin to perform data collection, and its Southwest facility is expected to process 40 percent of the forms.  Employees will help staff a hotline for anyone who has census questions.  Applications for Vangent Inc. can be completed online at http://www.vangent.com.

Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — They’ll walk.  They’ll share a meal.  And hopefully, they’ll challenge the preconceived notions and myths about people who are experiencing homelessness.  This week, a coalition of 11 service providers, faith-based organizations, and non-profits which make up the Homelessness Awareness Coalition, will do their part to raise knowledge on the complex issue.  Their lofty goal, to end homelessness in Maricopa County.

According to Brian Spicker of Valley of the Sun United Way, about 8,000 individuals experience homelessness each day in Maricopa County and 14 percent of Arizona’s population lives in poverty.  More and more families and individuals are turning to Valley providers for assistance.  Lack of financial resources, eviction and job loss are the three most common reasons given by persons entering shelters.  “Homelessness impacts diverse people,” Spicker said.  “It’s not just a Phoenix issue.  It’s a Valley-wide issue.  At our last Homeless Connect, 25 percent of attendees were newly homeless.” [Note: Read the full article at Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness.]

ASU students organize panel on Phoenix homelessness

[Source: Rachel Jimenez, Arizona State Press] — The ASU Wells Fargo Student Center held a homelessness panel at the Downtown campus Tuesday to discuss the myths and misconceptions of homelessness.  Creative writing senior Eichelle Armstrong had the idea for the panel and put it together.  “When I was a freshman I lived [in] downtown [Phoenix] and had a friend who was deathly afraid of the homeless,” she said.  Because of this, Armstrong decided to create a discussion where students can learn the realities of homelessness.

The panel consisted of five experts and they spoke to eight participating students.  Panelist Terry Araman, who works for the Lodestar Day Resource Center, said officials from Maricopa County conduct a study about the homeless population annually.

The Maricopa Association of Governments study found a 20 percent increase in homeless people between January 2008 and January 2009.  There were about 2,918 homeless people in Maricopa County as of January 2009.  However, that number doesn’t include people living in shelters across the Valley.  Numbers aren’t yet available for 2009, according to the study, but there were 4,793 people living in shelters in 2008.

The study reports that there are 280 homeless people under the age of 18, an increase of 280 percent since 2008.  The number of homeless adults increased 14 percent to 2,698; and the number of homeless families increased 248 percent, to 37.

Through present economic hardships, many individuals and families have been evicted or have lost their jobs or mortgages, Araman said.  “We’ve been seeing a lot of what we call the ‘new homeless,’” he said.  [Note: Read the full article at ASU students organize panel on Phoenix homelessness.]

Maricopa County pollution levels improving

[Source: Kate Bolnick, ASU Web Devil] — Arizona’s pollution levels showed improvement in Maricopa County in this year’s ozone season, the time of the year when pollution levels are the highest, an official said.  “This year, so far, we have four exceedance days for Maricopa County,” said Maricopa County Air Quality Department spokeswoman Holly Ward.  “Last year we had 18 exceedance days reported.”

Exceedance days are the number of days when at least one of the county’s monitors exceed the ozone standards, Ward said.  “There [are] some core components that this department strives for… the first and foremost is to reduce the number of times [Maricopa County] exceed[s] the public health standard,” she said.

The public health standard comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act of 1970, which was amended in 1990.  The standard was raised in March of 2008 to .075 parts-per-million.  The act clarifies what level of pollution is acceptable and specifies only one exceedance day every three years is allowed.  Arizona is in great violation of the standards, according to the act, but is improving, Ward said.  [Note: Read the full article at Maricopa County pollution levels improving.]

Metro Phoenix commercial foreclosures rocket

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — More than 2,000 commercial properties in Maricopa County have received 90-day foreclosure notices since Jan. 1, representing $6.3 billion in real-estate loans on which the borrowers have failed to make payments.  That number is staggering when placed in contrast with the average commercial foreclosure rate over the past decade, which has been practically zero.

The problem, sparked by property-value declines and a paucity of refinancing options, has produced a steady flow of distressed commercial properties onto the market, with a heavy emphasis on small and midsize office and retail centers.  Industrial and warehouse properties also have suffered tremendously, due in large part to disappearing jobs.  More than 1 million square feet of previously occupied industrial and warehouse space was vacated in the second quarter.

Commercial-real-estate broker Bret Isbel has been tracking actual foreclosure sales in Maricopa County, which can take several months to occur following the issuance of a foreclosure or trustee’s sale notice.  The number of notices issued has been holding steady at between 300 and 400 a month since January, but actual foreclosures vary more widely, because it can take months — potentially even years — for a property in default to be repossessed by the lender or sold to a third party.  In Arizona, a lender can foreclose in either of two ways: It can take the borrower to court via foreclosure, or it can bypass the court system and call for a trustee’s sale, which is quicker and less expensive but requires the lender to waive certain legal rights.

Isbel said there’s no indication that the pace of commercial foreclosures is about to taper off.  If anything, it’s still building momentum.  “We’re at the tip of the iceberg, there’s no doubt,” said Isbel, of Scottsdale-based GPE Commercial Advisors. “It’s just a question of how big it is underneath.”

The inescapable problem for many commercial developers is that they’ve had to maintain the same construction loan payments while lowering rents because of dwindling demand for leased commercial space.  While the federal government has created programs to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure negotiate lower mortgage payments, no such program exists for commercial-property owners, and none is expected.

By and large, commercial-mortgage lenders are not modifying commercial-real-estate loans, even as commercial-lease rates have plummeted as much as 75 percent in some areas.  Isbel said county records show more than 50 commercial foreclosure sales in June, the most recent full month available, with a total mortgage value of about $54 million.  Geographically, they’re all over the map, including the East Valley, West Valley, Scottsdale, and downtown Phoenix.  [Note: Read the full article at Metro Phoenix commercial foreclosures rocket.]

Mesa mayor to fight court’s move to downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Mesa Mayor Scott Smith doesn’t want East Valley residents to get stuck paying for the closing of Maricopa County Superior Court’s criminal divisions through extra travel costs and inconvenience.  Smith plans to fight against plans to move the criminal divisions to Phoenix by the end of this year by meeting with Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell and the East Valley’s two representatives on the Board of Supervisors. “I think it would be a huge disservice to the East Valley for these courts to move,” Smith said.  “It’s shifting the costs and burden to individual citizens.”

He said the size of Maricopa County alone justifies a full-service courthouse, including criminal courts. “We’re a huge county. The citizens are not served when the services are so far away,” Smith said.

But Mundell’s not budging, saying the move is necessary to improve efficiency and save money on transporting defendants from Phoenix jails to the Mesa courthouse for hearings on felony cases.  “I would love to have criminal in all of our facilities,” in Mesa, northeast Phoenix, and Surprise, she said, but county can’t afford it.

The county also is building a controversial $343 million criminal tower in downtown Phoenix that is scheduled to open in 2012. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix air quality on top ten worst list

[Source: Syleste Rodriguez, 12 News] — On a clear day sometimes downtown Phoenix can be seen from nearby mountain trails, but experts say those days are numbered.  It won’t be long before car pollution coupled with hot temperatures cloud the view.   “It’s some of the combustion elements that are not completely burned, they get into the atmosphere, we put 102 degree temperature on them and we cook that soup and create ozone,” Acting Director of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Patrick Cunningham says.

ADEQ says ozone is dangerous to everyone.  Some health experts used to think ozone just effected at risk groups like seniors, young children and those with respiratory diseases.  Not anymore.   “It’s never good for anyone to breathe unhealthy air, even if you are healthy, the idea of breathing in tons of particulate matter or high rates of ozone,” American Lung Association of Arizona Director of Government Relations Corey Woods says.

The American Lung Association conducted a study on the 25 most ozone-polluted cities in America.  Phoenix ranks 9th.  The top 3 are all in California: Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Visalia-Porterville.  “It’s not just numbers were looking at here, the numbers really do have real world impact on people’s health,” American Lung Association of Arizona Director of Government Relations Corey Woods says.

The EPA lowered it’s standard and made it more protective March 2008. Less than half of Maricopa County ozone pollution monitors scattered across town didn’t pass the test summer of ’08.  Now the job, to work to meet the new requirement to preserve our health and the air we breathe.  ADEQ says the easiest and most effective way to do your part is to carpool, ride the light rail or use the bus system, especially during the summer months and when you fill up on gasoline, do it at night because that’s when temperatures drop.

Maricopa Co. Health Director recommends keeping schools open

[Source: Maricopa County Public Information Office] — While the Maricopa County Department of Public Health is awaiting confirmation of its 58 potential cases of Swine Flu (H1N1) from The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, its director is not waiting.   “Because current data does not suggest that this strain of H1N1 is behaving any differently than seasonal flu, I am recommending schools in Maricopa County no longer dismiss classes due to a confirmed case.” said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa Co. Department of Public Health.

“I have weighed this carefully and discussed the options with district school superintendants just this morning and we are all in agreement that we must remain consistent in our public health recommendations,” said England.   “If I dismissed schools every time we had an outbreak of seasonal influenza, I would be closing schools all winter long. Right now, there is no data to support that this H1N1 is any different, so me must defer to our standard, good ‘ol fashioned public health messages that we give every year,” said England.  “Wash your hands, stay home when you are sick and cough into your sleeve.”

Schools are strongly advised to continue working with students on proper hygiene as well as reporting absentee rates to the public health department.  Also, letters will be sent to the district offices on Monday by the health department outlining the updated recommendation.

England, his staff of epidemiologists and the state health department are monitoring this situation closely and will continue to make recommendations as the situation evolves. England stressed, “If we learn that this particular strain of H1N1 is changing, I have no problem changing this recommendation and closing schools in Maricopa County if that is what is necessary and that’s where the science points us in order to keep our community safe.”

“We support Maricopa County and its recommendation to its schools,” said Will Humble, acting director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.  “One of our biggest roles right now at state health is to continue working closely with our federal partners to make sure our local health officers have the most up-to-date information in order to make these difficult policy decisions for their communities.”