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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

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.]

Phoenix District 4 crime summit, April 4

Vice Mayor Tom Simplot will host his annual crime summit from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Adam Diaz Center, 4115 W. Thomas Road.  This year’s summit will bring together leading government officials — including Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and Public Safety Manager Jack Harris — along with neighborhood activists and law enforcement specialists to brainstorm policies that could better address local crime issues. 

“In the past, this summit has been a very effective tool in generating new ideas to fight crime,” said Simplot.  “Keeping neighborhoods safe is truly a team effort, which is why partnerships between law enforcement, government officials and community residents are critical to address crime issues successfully.”

Since its inception in 2004, the district crime summit has laid the groundwork for a number of city ordinances, including two municipal laws in 2005 regulating the sale of common cold and allergy medications that contain key raw materials used to make methamphetamines.

Residents interested in fighting crime in their neighborhoods can register for the summit on the day of the event.  Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and will include light refreshments.  Attendees are asked to confirm their attendance by calling 602-262-7447 or by e-mail.

Feb. 27 premiere event to raise funds for college bound Phoenix students

4000000088The first annual Phoenix Union Scholarship Gala on February 27 (6-9 p.m.) at the Downtown Wyndham Phoenix Hotel is predicted to be “one the most exciting and engaging fundraisers of 2009,” says Mary Peralta, Gala Committee Chair.  The purpose of the event is to raise scholarship funds for the growing number of college bound Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) students who cannot afford the escalating cost of tuition.  The theme of the gala is “Mission Possible: Building a Foundation for Student Success.”  An expected 400 attendees will enjoy viewing the accomplishments of over 200 students (also in attendance) in the performing, visual, and culinary arts.

KPHO TV Anchor, Catherine Anaya, is Mistress of Ceremonies.  Guest speakers are Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.  The mayor is being honored as the first recipient of the “Friend of Phoenix Union High School District Award.”

Gala Chair Peralta says that “gala committee members all came together with one mission in mind; making higher education a reality for more PUHS District graduates,” and Michael Incorvaia, a member of the committee states, “the best hope for a stronger Phoenix economy lies in the success and graduation of our PUHS District students; businesses and communities understand this, which is why our table and ticket sales have been so strong, in spite of the financial challenges that everyone is confronting.”  For more information on individual tickets, table sponsorships, and silent auction donations, or to schedule an interview, contact Mary Peralta at 602-361-2172 or via e-mail.

Phoenix Country Club to end men-only dining

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Attorney General have reached a settlement in a discrimination lawsuit that will open all of the club’s dining facilities to all members and their guests “regardless of sex.”  The discrimination lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Terry Goddard in September, alleged that Phoenix Country Club violated the Arizona Civil Rights Act “by excluding women from using the Men’s Grill and men from using the Women’s Grill.”

Although the country club has a long history as a private club in Phoenix, the lawsuit contended that it has hosted many public meetings and events and derived significant income from catering to outside groups.  Thus, it is subject to anti-discrimination laws.  Now that the club has agreed to forego separate gender-specific dining facilities, Goddard “has acknowledged that he is now satisfied that the club is operating as a private club,” a statement released Wednesday said.  The settlement also notes that there was no admission of liability by the club.

Implementation of the settlement will have to wait until next month, however, when the club at Seventh Street and Thomas Road opens following a multi-million dollar remodeling of the clubhouse that took several months.  “We are pleased that this matter has been resolved while at the same time preserving the private club status and traditions of this 109-year-old part of Phoenix history,” said country club Manager Pat LaRocca in the joint statement.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Long line of candidates seeks to replace District 6 Councilman Stanton

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Just hours after City Councilman Greg Stanton announced he was resigning to take a top post in the Attorney General’s Office, more than a dozen names surfaced as possible replacements.  Among them include former state lawmaker and [John] McCain confidante Deb Gullett, Mayor Phil Gordon’s ex-chief of staff; former city police administrator and county attorney also-ran Gerald Richard; Don Keuth, president of the Phoenix Community Alliance; and Paulina Vasquez Morris, former chairwoman of the Maricopa Integrated Health System.  Others said to be interested in the post: AFL-CIO spokeswoman Dana Kennedy, who heads a group that promotes women in politics; attorney and GOP activist Chris DeRose; Gordon campaign worker Joanna Peters, an Arcadia neighborhood leader; and ASU administrator Laurel Arndt, who sits on the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee.

Jockeying for the vacant seat will likely continue through early February, after the council votes on the budget and Stanton steps down.  Council members have 10 business days after the vacancy occurs to appoint someone to finish the remainder of his term, which ends Dec. 31.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix Councilman Stanton to resign for job with AG’s Office

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on Thursday appointed Phoenix City Councilman Greg Stanton to head legislative affairs in his office.  Stanton said he would resign from elected office and begin his new job on Feb. 4, one day after the City Council is slated to vote on a record $270 million in budget cuts through the 2010 fiscal year.  “I’m excited to continue my public service working for Terry Goddard, someone I admire a great deal,” said Stanton, an attorney who has served on the council since 2000.  “I absolutely promised I would not leave my position with the City Council until we finish the budget process.  I owe it to the people I represent.”

Stanton, who had filed papers to run for his third and final council term this fall, replaces David Gass as deputy attorney general for legislation, policy and strategic planning.  Gass stepped down on Jan. 1 after Gov. Janet Napolitano appointed him a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.  Goddard, who served as Phoenix mayor from 1984 to 1990, said he’s been impressed with Stanton while working with him on gang, graffiti and other crime issues in Phoenix.  “We’re going with Greg Stanton based on his credentials, his experience and his legal background,” Goddard said. “There is a whole list of assets that he brings to the table that are not duplicated anywhere else.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

How a historic downtown Phoenix shop became a famed pizzeria

Pizza Bianco, downtown Phoenix

[Source: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic] — In a downtown Phoenix block full of historic buildings, the Baird Machine Shop might be the richest one.  And it is a story that continues to be written.  The 1928 square, brick building was one of several buildings from Phoenix’s original townsite days that was spared demolition by a Phoenix mayor.  Another man, who would become Phoenix mayor, had the vision that the building could become an iconic restaurant that would draw tourists from around the nation.

That second mayor, Phil Gordon, might have been ahead of his time by proposing the restaurant in the late 1980s.  But his vision came true, as the Baird Machine Shop houses the nationally renowned Pizzeria Bianco.  “I just always knew there would be that attraction to the physical uniqueness of the building,” Gordon said of his 1987 proposal to remodel and revitalize the Baird building.  “We saw the potential of (Heritage Square) being so unique,” he said.

So did then-Phoenix Mayor John Driggs.  When he took office in 1970, he decided to save the buildings that still remained from Block 14, one of the first created in the city that still had original buildings on it.  The Rosson House, which Driggs remembered seeing as a child, had been subdivided into apartments and had air-conditioning units hanging from its windows, said Darla Harmon, executive director at the Rosson House Museum.

The Baird Machine Shop, whose previous tenant was Milt Ponder’s Sign Shop, was one of the buildings bought by the city.  It was just luck that a deal didn’t go through that would have leveled the old structures, Harmon said.  “We’re a great place to put a parking garage, don’t you think?” she said. “(Developers) were looking around licking their lips.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Noted Arizonans explain why they “shop local”

The 1,500-plus members of Local First Arizona are the locally-owned, independent businesses that are the backbone of Arizona’s economy.  You have a choice of where to spend your hard-earned dollars, and Local First encourages you to “put your money where your house is.”  When you shop at a locally owned business, 45 cents of every dollar stays in-state — versus only 13 cents of every dollar spent at a national chain.  To locate a product or service from a locally-owned business, click here.

Phoenix’s Garfield neighborhood subject of premiere video, Nov. 13

Garfield street with downtown Phoenix in background

The public is invited to attend the premiere viewing of the video, “Civic Engagement & Revitalization in Phoenix’s Garfield Neighborhood.”

  • Date: Thursday, November 13, 2008
  • Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m.
  • Place: Alwun House, 1912 bungalow at 1204 E. Roosevelt
  • Free; light refreshments will be served

A two year project by Marilyn Dantico, professor of Political Science at ASU, the video documents a small fragment of Garfield residents’ 22 years of concerted effort to drive its neighborhood revitalization and community building efforts.  Both the Department of Political Science and School of Geographical Sciences collaborated on this project, funded by the Arizona Humanities Council.  Dr. Dantico and students attempted to capture the tenacity of residents that created today’s safer and rehabilitated downtown historic neighborhood.  As a result of these resident efforts, Garfield was selected as Arizona’s first U.S. Department of Justice “Weed and Seed” site.  This program reinforced existing collaborative strategies with the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department and Police Department.

In between vintage housing footage, are spliced the remarks by Terry Goddard (former Mayor, current Arizona Attorney General), Jerome Miller (Director Neighborhood Services Department), Kate Krietor (Deputy NSD Director), and Roberto Frietz (Garfield Neighborhood Initiative Area Team Leader).  For more information about the project, click here.