Bond Grifters

by John Washington on June 7, 2019

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In a recent comment appended to an article in the Scottsdale Trough Feeders newsletter (aka the Scottsdale Independent), village idiot (and muni bond huckster) Mike Norton claimed (among other things) that the assertion that Scottsdale has the “Most Debt Per Capita” is a lie. I’m the only guy who’s been saying that, so I guess Norton is calling me a liar.

With what I’ve been told about Norton’s personal and business finances, he’s not someone in whom I’d put a lot of stock when it comes to money management.

Clearly Norton is also having some trouble in his position as co-chair of the effort to get Scottsdale citizens to vote to raise their own taxes. The developers and construction companies behind this effort have decided to load up the committee with more recognizable and (barely) more credible names like former (defeated) council member Dennis Robbins. Dennis is now with the Charros, who have a no-bid contract to operate the city’s municipal spring training operations, and recently received double-digit millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded improvements.

Another prominent name on the list of bond grifters is Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as the Scottsdale Cultural Council). That entity is a private business organized as an ostensible non-profit, which receives free rent in taxpayer owned facilities, AND a $4+ million taxpayer-funded CASH subsidy every year via no-bid city contract. And which, I might add, has almost no cultural value to the citizens whatsoever. But they are angling hard for their piece of the muni bond pie.

Circling back to Norton’s claim: The poor guy is just too dumb to realize that the per-capita debt status wasn’t just something I estimated for lack of available information (like the overall debt, and the true infrastructure backlog). No, that fact came straight from a May 2013 Beth Duckett article in the Arizona Republic, leading up to THAT year’s bond election.

Duckett’s article is interesting for other reasons, not the least of which is some commentary on the issue by then-treasurer, now-former-councilmember David Smith (also recently defeated). And, as I read down the article, I realize that yours truly is quoted, too:)

Sadly, 2013 was well-past the peak of the Republic’s involvement in local issues like this.

But as I scrolled back through my 1000+ articles on these and other Scottsdale and Arizona issues while looking for that link, I ran across a few more interesting links that are worth reading:

Sean McCarthy’s The growing debt you probably didn’t know existed.

Russ Wiles’s Scottsdale and Chandler both placed among the top 20 nationally for combined taxes.

And Arizona state and local debt: $6,522 per person, also from Russ, which touches on school district debt.

So, I’d advise you to take anything Mike Norton has to say with a healthy dose of margarita salt.

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Phony Poll-ony

by John Washington on May 29, 2019

Jason Rose, who basically lies for a living, has put out a press release in which he claims, “Substantial and Deep Voter Support for November Bond Measures.”

That presser bounces through many more hyperbolic adjectives and adverbs like, “strong” (several times), “sweeping,” “substantial” (again), and “diverse.” Hey, the more, the merrier, right? Reminds me of one of zoning attorney John Berry’s high-rise housing projects: “World-class, iconic, and visionary!”

Someone else pointed out to me that some basic math shows that the claimed poll results yield “undecided” numbers in the 1-3% range. Which is, of course, completely ridiculous.

But the real kicker to me is the next-to-last assertion in the press release:

Trust in the Scottsdale Mayor and City Council

“In general, would you say that you trust or not trust the mayor and Scottsdale City Council to make decisions in the best interests of Scottsdale?”

Yes, Trust: 65 percent
No, Don’t Trust: 28 percent

100-65-28=7%. So 7% of the respondents had no feelings about the mayor and council?

In my non-scientific experience, somewhere around 90% of Scottsdale residents can’t even NAME the mayor outside of election season. And probably 98% of them have never been to a city council meeting.

But even IF nearly 90% support the bonds (average of the three claimed numbers), and IF 65% of the voters actually do trust the mayor and council; 90-65%=25% of the voters apparently don’t realize that it’s the mayor and city council who have controlled the phony construction of the bond questions, grouping of items, and ballot language; and they will control how the money is spent if the voters approve it.

Which proves once again that you can get any answers you want if you know how to ask the questions. Or you can just make stuff up and sprinkle it with a bunch of flowery adjectives and fairy dust.

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Before you vote to raise your taxes…

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General Plan Update: The Best Bad Idea We Have?

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One-Eyed Jackass

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This crazy ‘public art’ installation was recently… ahem, erected, at Indian School Road and Marshall Way. “In the end, they [the artist and the public art division of Scottsdale Arts] went directly to the city council, which has the power to overrule the [city] design board. In February, all but one city council member voted […]

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