Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

9th November
written by Sean Noble









Yesterday’s election was proof, once again, that voters can be finicky – and that’s the way it should be.

Here is a rundown:

 Legislative District 18 Recall

The big story was the surprise victory of Republican Jerry Lewis over Republican State Senate President Russell Pearce.  Pearce was placed on recall ballot through the efforts of some left-wing and Democrat- affiliated organizations, but it was conservative Republican Jerry Lewis who took advantage of the opportunity by running a very solid race. Pearce outspent Lewis as much as 3-1, and Pearce also enjoyed support from some independent expenditures and the entirety of the Republican establishment.

It wasn’t enough.  Voters were given a choice between a hard-edged Mormon conservative Republican whose main issue has been immigration (Pearce) and a softer spoken Mormon conservative Republican who has been a champion for school choice (Lewis).  This will likely impact the next legislative session, in that there will be fewer immigration-related issues at the forefront.

Lewis will be a good fit in a conservative State Senate, but Pearce loyalists will likely spend time unnecessarily sniping at him – and he may be a short termer, depending on what happens with redistricting.

City of Phoenix

In the Phoenix, union-backed Greg Stanton prevailed over Wes Gullet.  Thelda Williams prevailed over a challenge from the right.  One of the unspoken stories in that race was the Williams enjoyed strong support from the LDS community (who would typically be more aligned with a more conservative candidate) because of her work in helping the LDS Church preserve the ability to build a temple in the north reaches of Phoenix.  Daniel Valenzuela bested Brenda Sperduti.  After Jim Waring unseated a union boss in August, there is a pretty even split on how much union influence there will be at City Hall.

Who said politics was boring?

9th April
written by Sean Noble

The Arizona Republic reports that it costs taxpayers an average of $100,000 per City of Phoenix employee. That’s not to say that some City of Phoenix employees don’t deserve to be paid appropriately for their work, they should. The rub is paying full-time employees for things that could easily be outsourced – like auto repair. How many companies do you know of that employ their own auto mechanics? Yeah, yeah, I’m sure Swift Transportation or Knight Transportation does, but that’s apples and oranges.

There is nothing wrong with sending cars that need to be serviced or repaired to a private auto shop. It would save taxpayers money, and the private company would have incentive to do a good job for a good price because they would want the repeat business.

The second rub is that we have City of Phoenix employees making more money than comparable jobs in the private sector. That doesn’t seem to make sense.

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has been one of the few voices trying to educate people about what is going on, and he’s taking on some powerful interest groups, including the employee unions. It’s refreshing to see someone on the council who has the courage to take on the establishment and actually stand up for the average taxpayer.

Here is an interesting excerpt from the Republic story:

“Public-sector employees should not get paid more than their boss, the taxpayer,” DiCiccio said. “It’s skewed so far it’s almost embarrassing.”

The councilman has upset Mayor Phil Gordon, some council members and labor groups by proposing to outsource certain “non-strategic” city jobs to the private sector. For example, Phoenix spends $31 million a year to have city mechanics repair vehicles, he said; only $10 million is outsourced. He would like to see more work sent to private mechanics.

Luis Schmidt, a spokesman for the union that represents mechanics, said outsourcing those jobs could put police officers, firefighters and other employees who drive city vehicles at greater risk. Schmidt argues that city mechanics are better trained and more accountable than their private-sector counterparts.

So DiCiccio has upset the Mayor, other council members and the unions. And the mechanics union spokesman says police and firefighters would face greater risk if their vehicles were repaired by mechanics in the private sector. Seriously? That has to be one of the most absurd arguments I’ve ever heard.

We need more Sal DiCiccio’s standing up for the taxpayers. As a resident of Phoenix, I offer my personal thanks to the Councilman.

3rd July
written by Sean Noble

William Gates

Bill Gates is now a Phoenix city councilman.  By a 5-3 vote, he was appointed to the vacancy created with Maria Baier’s appointment to be Arizona’s State Land Commissioner.

Gates is a solid pick.  He has been active in the community and is a smart, thoughtful attorney who will bring a strong work ethic and common sense approach to city government.  There is no question that he will have an immediate impact on the council.

I’ve had the chance to work with Bill on a variety of issues and known him for many years. This couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Congrats Bill.

10th June
written by Sean Noble

You see a story like this one, about Wal-Mart opening targeting a specifically Hispanic clientele, and the first thing that comes to mind is “Why didn’t they do that before?”

At least, that was my reaction.  Bashas’ has done it for years under the Food City banner and there have been a number of different chains that have catered to Hispanics.  Given Wal-Mart’s market share, you’d think they would have done this long ago.

So, it opens today – and my guess is that it is going to blow expectations out of the water.  Wal-Mart is a great store – it’s got everything.  I know there are a bunch of Wal-Mart bashers out there – whether you are a union supporter or a shopping snob – but at the end of the day they are good at what they do – sell a lot of stuff at affordable prices.

That will be the same with the new store at 89th Ave and Thomas… and it should be.

Viva la Wal-Mart!

(I don’t know if that is correct Spanish grammar – my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Allen, would be horrified if he knew how little I actually learned and retained.)

4th June
written by Sean Noble

As if you needed more reason not to ride the light rail in Phoenix, this should keep you off for good. 

Around 8 a.m., a train was stopped for cleaning after a man smudged feces in the interior of the train. Police were told the man on the train was flicking and playing with feces.

The light rail operator was notified and quickly took the train out of service.

“It is a biohazard, and we have protocol for how we handle a situation like this,” says Hillary Foose. Those protocols include disinfecting the train.

Are we really surprised?  Riders have to hold it until the end of the line and they’re not required to wear pants, so of course this kind of crap was going to happen.

23rd May
written by Sean Noble

 Earlier this week I took a red-eye flight from Phoenix to the east coast.  I’m not a fan of red-eyes and try to avoid them, but this was one of those last minute things that come up.  It’s not that I haven’t flown a lot of red-eyes, I have.  For a number of years when I was going back and forth from Phoenix to D.C. I would take the red-eye because it didn’t burn up most of a day to travel.  I also am usually able to sleep on the red-eye.

Until this week.  I was in the second row behind bulkhead, in the window seat.  The guy in the middle seat was a “sprawler”, you know, the kind of person who takes up space from both seats on either side, using both armrests, knees pointed out, etc.  So that had me cramped up against the window to start.

They dim the lights in the cabin and I’m settling in and flash! the overhead light for the seat right in front of me comes on, and it. is. bright!  I try to ignore it for a few minutes and then look over the seat to see what’s going on.  The girl with the light on is on her laptop – which has a lighted screen – so there is no reason for her to have the overhead light on. Of course, I don’t say anything.

I try to settle back in and get some rest when, bam! the person behind me kicks the back of my seat… hard. I don’t think much of it until three minutes later it happens again and then again and again and again every few minutes.  Apparently, the girl had put her tray table down, curled into the fetal position, with her feet being supported by the tray table, but she was twitching and moving constantly and since her feet were right on the back of my chair, I felt every move she made!

I decided to put my tray table down and lay my head down so the seat movement wasn’t as disturbing.  Just as I’m relaxing I hear, ever so faintly, that sound… you know, the one that comes right before, well… that smell.  It came from the guy sitting in the middle seat in the row in front of me, and, unfortunately, with my head down on the tray table, my nose is uncomfortably close to the source.

So now I’ve got the bright light, the rocking chair, and this ongoing stench (he was just warming up).  I try to block the smell by putting my shirt over my nose, but it only helps marginally.  Despite the noxious distractions, I begin to relax and I’m just slipping into that fuzzy place between consciousness and sleep when, ZZZZZZZ! 

Now, this wasn’t just some wimpy snore, this was a monster snore – and it was coming from sprawler right next to me.

By this time, we’re almost two hours into the 4 hour flight, and I decided to just give up.  I pulled out my iPod, covered my nose and watched re-runs of Mad Men.

Remind me not to take another red-eye…



5th February
written by Sean Noble

Waiting at the light at 19th Ave and Camelback in Phoenix on Wednesday evening, I watched a northbound 3-car train go past with 18 passengers.  I then watched a southbound 3-car train go by with exactly 4 passengers.

Then I read the lede to today’s Arizona Republic story: Just as ridership is growing to record levels on the Valley’s public transit, authorities are edging closer to enacting big fare hikes.

Let me get this straight.  Ridership is at record levels, and there were 4 people on a train at 6:45 p.m. on a weeknight?  It only took one person to gain 50% in ridership?  I guess that makes it pretty easy to attain “record levels.” And now we’re worried that we’re going to reduce ridership because fares will go up?

Less than 30 days ago, light rail officials were reporting that they were “on track to meet or beat its ridership projections for the year.”  This was after exactly one week of operating with paying riders.

It’s not like there weren’t a lot of people telling us this wasn’t going to work.   We’ll just have to continue to pay for it for years and years to come.

12th January
written by Sean Noble

Good grief.  Light rail’s blight in the greater Phoenix area is only getting worse.  First, it was the completely dishonest campaign to convince voters that it would reduce traffic congestion and that it wouldn’t remove any traffic lanes (renderings of Central Avenue showed three lanes in each direction).  Then it was the construction phase that was ten times worse than promised by light rail boosters.  Lately it’s been trains hitting cars and smaller-than-hoped-for ridership numbers.

And now this: “artists” riding the light rail with no pants on.

The Arizona Republic carried a story on Sunday headlined “Light-rail riders shed trousers.”  Here is one of the craziest quotes I’ve ever read by an elected official: “The International Don’t Wear Your Pants Day is great; we need more things like this.”  That brilliance was uttered by Avondale Vice-Mayor Ken Weise.  Uh, sir, it just isn’t good public service to be cheerleading people taking their pants off in public.  What’s worse, he apparently had his 11-year old daughter with him.  She is obviously the adult in the family, her quote was, “It’s kind of bizarre to look at.”  Yes, dear, bizarre is one way of putting it.

Now, I don’t know Weise, never met him, heck, I’d never even heard of him before this story, but it just isn’t setting a good example when  your daughter witnesses your glee at pant-less patrons of light rail.  It’s kinda creepy.

There are a couple other gems in the story.  Apparently, we haven’t seen much of this kind of thing in Phoenix in the past because we didn’t have enough “public spaces.”  Now that we have light rail, we have “a public space in which diverse groups can come together.”

According to “urban-studies expert” Nan Ellin at ASU, “Things like this get people excited, and that’s the promise of the public realm. You’re in a space where people don’t know what will happen. I think people will start to say, ‘Phoenix is cool.’ People get excited when they see the possibilities of things like this.”

Well, without pants on, I hope they don’t get too excited.  And I don’t think this is the kind of “excitement” most people want in Phoenix.  This woman has a PhD and she says that taking your pants off in public is going to have people saying Phoenix is cool?  Did she do that on the subways of Manhattan when she was “earning” that PhD at Columbia? Her comments are not only embarrassing to Columbia (although they won’t be embarrassed by it) they’re especially embarrassing to ASU, or should be.

Hasn’t this cost us enough?  It’s costing us credibility and now more money for Metro to invest in signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes, no pants, no service.” 


28th December
written by Sean Noble

No, I’m not talking about my blog… but it could work.

The Sunday edition of the Arizona Republic devoted a front page, top of the fold, huge headline story to the inaugural run of “light rail” in the Valley of the Sun.  An estimated 90,000 people showed up for the free ride.  The article was typical “isn’t this great!” hype, but there were a few nuggets that made me crack a smile. 

“I was trying to beat the crowd, of course there’s no crowd,” was a comment by a guy who showed up at 6:00 a.m. to stand alone for nearly three hours waiting for his free ride.

Or this lady, “We’re just riding to Tempe, Mill Avenue, for lunch and riding back. And then we can say we did it.”  That doesn’t sound like somone planning to do it again.

Of the 90,000 people that officials say rode the rail on opening day, it will interesting to watch what the average ridership is when the novelty wears off and it starts costing money to get on the train.