A cut of the cards

Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Cave Creek who supported my Town Council candidacy. The luck of the cards was not with me. But change can be good. Cave Creek has an impressive new Town Council that I am confident will move forward with important issues.

The rezoning that will allow commercial development of the 20-acre site south of the Carefree Highway will help provide and advance the tax base that we badly need, especially in this unexpected economic downturn. It is unfortunate that we now have people mounting a voter referendum to repeal the rezoning. The referendum is clearly a waste of our town’s financial resources. All the successful candidates in the 2009 Town Council election were committed supporters of the rezoning. In short, we had the referendum in our Council elections. It’s over. Move on.

Several aspects of the recent election were historic. The publicity of the selection by a cut of the cards not only made the front page of the New York Times (June 17) and a feature on National Public Radio, but it was even cited in the London Daily Telegraph. Can the late night comedians be far behind? Ultimately, this is good publicity that can only help draw visitors to Cave Creek.

During my campaign, in addition to returning my Town Council stipend, I donated more money to the Town of Cave Creek for open space land preservation than I spent on my own election campaign. It is unfortunate that the financial expenditures by one opponent, approximately 50 times what I spent, could not have been invested more directly into the community. I hope that such campaign expenditures will not be a continuing feature of our town elections.

But the future of Cave Creek is far more than a cut of the cards. Carefully planned economic development, acquisition of open space lands and responsible growth are essential issues that the new Town Council must carefully guide. I am pleased to observe that so far, the signs are promising.

Thomas McGuire | Cave Creek

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Attempted mugging in Carefree

Mr. Koteas and Mr. Stavoe, if I failed to tell you that I think you are doing an outstanding job so far, you have my humble apology. You are new voices of reason in what had often been a sea of deception, secret agreements, and apathy toward most residents. Congratulations.

I am very impressed with your ability to navigate the murky waters of a generally closed town council. For example, when Gemmill tried to sandbag Doug on Tuesday, Doug was able to calmly put Gemmill's efforts in the proper light. That guy is a weasel for airing private discussions with him, in public. His premeditated written speech demonstrated advanced planning for a mugging. His feeble attempt to arraign Doug for wanting to hold the Chamber of Commerce and Thunderbird Artist events to higher standards was transparent.

In several situations you both made it very clear that you were working through funding decisions, even though the mayor wanted to tie you all to personnel issues, which are his to address. Peter is also to be commended for passionately explaining that Carefree's word must stand for something. Not honoring the $16K building pledge to the community YMCA would have been an indelible back mark in our history. Valid legal commitments made by any council majority, even if not bound by contracts, should be honored - if they are not, then Carefree has no honor and its word is worthless.

The budget workshops you have conducted have been grueling, but necessary. My one regret is that many residents are not able or willing to participate in these public meetings. I believe these meetings, as well as routine Council meetings, are vitally important for all of us. Our town government is a living thing, which is closer to serving all residents now than it has been in more than a decade. I wish more residents were aware of this refreshing change.

John Traynor | Carefree

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Liquidation – Property Tax – Walmart

Cave Creek citizens have three choices. Liquidation – Property Tax – Walmart.

The first choice is do nothing and sometime within the next two years Cave Creek will default on its debt. This will lead to financial collapse. To quote Vice Mayor Bunch after being briefed on the economic future of Cave Creek; "so what you are telling us, we can support Walmart or institute a property tax if not we won't need a financial officer we'll need a liquidator?” The answer was YES.

The second choice for Cave Creek is to institute a property tax. This will require the approval of Cave Creek citizens on a ballot initiative. Due to Cave Creek's low density, one person per five acres, the property tax will be very steep. A rough order of magnitude examination indicates that the rate of taxation will be in the 10 to 14 percent range of appraised value. A residential property valued at $500,000 will pay $6,000 to $8,400 in annual property tax. Why? Because Cave Creek is a low-density community – it is a classic example of economy of scale. By choosing to live in a low-density community you chose to pay more for services.

The third and last choice is major economic development beyond the classic commercial core. That core when fully developed will never account for more than 20 percent of the required revenues. It is now producing less than $1,500,000 annually in tax revenue.
Walmart alone will produce $3,000,000 in tax revenue annually. Walmart has chosen the property based on a market analysis just as Fry's, Home Depot, Lowes, CVS, and Chevron did. Each of those properties was rezoned from residential to commercial by Phoenix, Carefree and Cave Creek. All of these businesses see this particular area as the near and mid term economic future for development. That is what businesses do in a capitalist economic system. Markets are the determining factor.

The 2009 election in Cave Creek sent a clear message. All those elected, in public forums, supported Walmart. All those not elected did not support Walmart. The Cave Creek voters have spoken. Yet, outsiders, non-residents, led by Anna Marsolo, and many of those defeated in the 2009 election are gearing up for a referendum in opposition to Walmart. This is an attempt to lead Cave Creek into economic ruin. Don't let these interlopers destroy Cave Creek's future. Support Walmart and economic sanity. The choice is yours – Cave Creek Citizens Only.

George Ross | Cave Creek

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Jeannette Summers

Mayor David Swan and Carefree Town Council: I read in Sonoran News how badly you treated Jeanette Summers and the fact that you allowed Jeanette to be laid off publicly rather than doing it one-on-one privately. This is how you treat someone who served the Town faithfully over seven years?

The statement says that you saved $52,000 by laying Jeanette off. Now I know exactly what Jeanette was paid and you can't tell me that her fringe benefits cost you $18,000 a year.
When she was hired she was told that her position and her Official title was "Botanical Garden Specialist.” Where are the Botanical Gardens?

When the residents return in the fall and see what shape the garden is in, I am sure you will get some calls from unhappy residents. I think the voters may want to rethink who they want to put in office next election cycle.

You certainly do not know how to treat your employees. The way it was handled sounds like she was railroaded out of her job.

Pete Filiatrault | Treasurer, Friends of Agua Caliente

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Excessive water rate hike

I just received the June water bill from Cave Creek Water Company. We had heard the rates would double. Since our average water bill was around $18 we expected to pay about $36 per month, which would have been a hardship for seniors living on a fixed income, but possible.

We were and still are in shock over the bill for $71.34. My husband, 81 years old, couldn’t sleep all weekend worrying about how we were going to afford this, while I have to decide how we can eat cheaper and medicate less in order to afford this.

Some folks believe that living in Cave Creek means you have big bucks. We live in a 40 year old home that needs repairs and cannot afford the fine restaurants and events many of our neighbors enjoy. Our big treat is a trip to Wendy’s or McDonald’s, and sometimes a $3 movie in the Valley.

I doubt two old folks complaining can do much to change things, but I do hope someone in a like position will join in protesting the EXCESSIVE rate hike. I will be paying four times more than I previously did, and according to town hall it doesn’t matter how much or little water I use. I’m paying for delivery.

I may not be able to afford to live in this beautiful town much longer, and be forced to move to affordable Phoenix.

Barbara Koca | Cave Creek

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My two cents

First let me state that I moved here (to Cave Creek voter-proper) in May of 2001. I live and work in this town and try to spend MOST of my money here. So, in some ways I have a limited view. However, I have many life experiences. I have no intentions of trying to change the minds of the “NO” crowd, but I feel I do need to put my two cents in. I do not love Walmart. It is a store where is easy to get the whole list done and it IS going to come here whether it’s in Cave Creek, Phoenix, Carefree or Scottsdale. The arguments I’ve heard to date and my response:

The store will be 24/7 … We already have two 24/7 stores in the heart of Cave Creek (the two Circle Ks) where you can’t get much more than booze, soda, milk and a frozen dinner. Also not a great place to go at night.

Cave Creek does not have the work force for such a large store … I have always worked locally and I have worked with people from Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria and currently Wickenburg. There is a workforce out there.

Lights and signs … Being in Cave Creek, they will and are willing to adhere to our restrictions, meaning low lights and low and blending signage.

Too close to the road … There will be an 800 foot setback, similar to the Target on Scottsdale Road. The new Lowe’s only has a 200 foot setback.

Will kill the mom and pop business in town … Sorry folks, TJ’s hardware went out of business late in 2007 and that would have been the only business affected. The people ALWAYS loyal to Cave Creek Building Supply will remain loyal. And then the rest of our mom ‘n pop businesses are specialty shops. THEY WILL NOT BE AFFECTED.

Now, to the non-Cave Creek voters, SHUT UP! You do not live in this town. We originally DID NOT want Terravita (Scottsdale), Home Depot (now in our back yard, but with no tax dollars, Phoenix) CVS or Lowe’s (Carefree).

I did not want The Knowles in my back yard, but I had no choice, no vote, not even a referendum. And anyone that bought land or homes near Carefree Hwy., I’m sorry you did not realize it would turn into Bell Road. I knew it when I moved here in 2001.

I say take it and take it now! The entire town is hurting right now and if we really want to try and keep out OPEN SPACE (without more taxation) we need some other income/tax revenue.

Katie Hobart | Cave Creek

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Water rate increase

It seems that our elected officials decided to increase our rates above and beyond any other town in Arizona. They have completed this increase without a vote by the public but by the swing of a gavel.

While it is acceptable to assume the water company should operate their everyday business without loosing money, it is not acceptable to raise our rates in the manner which it was done, with no consideration was given to the size of each property, as a matter of fact those with larger properties will suffer more. My water bill jumped from $155 per month to $494, an increase of $339. That is higher than my electric bill.

When I went to the water dept to complain, their comment was, we sent out notices on the previous bills notifying of the increase (yea, yea, yea). How many people expect a increase of 318 percent, not many is my guess!

I thought maybe $5 or $10 per house, but not 318 percent. No one in their right mind would believe this was possible. I guess I will have to cut down some of the twenty-nine trees on my acre, in order to continue to live here. You can be sure the next election that is held in Cave Creek, that I will not be voting for any of the jerks that voted this rate increase.

Not only is this a hardship on retired people or fixed income people, it's exceeded even what California is charging. This will cause a devaluation of all property's that are serviced by the Cave Creek Water Co. because individuals who wish to live in the lovely Hamlet of Cave Creek will find it's not so lovely anymore.

Jerry Pettigrew | Cave Creek

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Why no development agreement?

I'm confused. The council, rightly, demanded that TC Thorstensen enter into a development agreement with the town if he wanted his upzoning request for an equestrian event center to be approved. Why isn't the same assurance being sought from Walmart? Without a binding agreement in place, there is nothing to prevent Walmart from flipping their 20 acres on Cave Creek Road at a tidy profit after it's upzoned to commercial.

All Cave Creek voters should stop focusing on the perceived merits or deficits that a Walmart would bring to our community and zero in on the rezoning issue itself. Ask yourself: would I feel the same way about allowing that property to go commercial if instead of Walmart it sprouted a string of low revenue generating businesses like tattoo parlors, nail salons, check cashing stores and the like? Once it's commercial, you won't have much of a choice.
If you want a Walmart to go in there, demand that your council make a development agreement a party to the application before the request for upzoning is granted. Better yet, ask why they haven't. That's the real elephant in the living room.

Jayne Carroll | Town of Cave Creek

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Let them fail

I wrote a letter to editor four months ago, and it was published in USAToday, entitled “Let them fail.” As a taxpayer I want no part of using government money to continue to pay union workers $70 an hour to build cars they cannot sell. I was astonished at the number of union lunatics that tracked me down and shouted insults on my phone recording machine.
From now on I am buying Toyotas and Hondas made in the USA by non-union employees. You are spot-on about a 31-year-old kid as the Car Czar.

Actions have consequences. I look for these huge deficits driving up interest rates, causing inflation, and perpetuating the depression. It is the law of economics that cannot be changed by executive order.

The only diversion from that mess will be Barry Suetoro (his name on his Indonesian passport) getting us in the Pakistan War, which should be the last financial expenditure before the dollar collapses.

I am not Mormon, but I am seeing their wisdom in stockpiling food, ammo, etc.

Bill Riley | Soap Lake, Washington

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I AM a Cave Creek resident. I am very excited about the "Walmart."

If Cave Creek does not get the sales tax it will go across the street and residents will still pass by it with no benefit to our town.

We blew it with Home Depot – let’s not do that again.

Melinda Cottingham | Cave Creek

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President Obama in Egypt

Palastinians must abandon violence and peacefully acknowledge Israel's right to exit and live side-by-side.

America must stand with and support Israel.

Marvin Hahn | Scottsdale

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How are tricks, Senatrix?

Last week, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) severely chastised Army Brigadier General Joseph Walsh for responding, "Yes, Ma'm" during a Senate hearing. "You will address me as 'Senator,' as I worked hard for that title!" she tartly stated. Since both Boxer and Senator Diane Feinstein are from the funky FanSanFreako area of California, the former should have been more gender-correct. "Senator" means old man, and "senescence" means aging. In order to be grammatically and socially correct, Boxer should have demanded to be addressed as "Senatrix."

Note to Boxstein or Feinbox (I get the two mixed up): If Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom is always addressed as "Ma'm" by her subjects, should this not suffice in the case of the two California senatrices (proper plural form)?

J-P. A. Maldonado | Phoenix

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