canfield cartoon

Magic numbers

Back on July 19, under the headline “Carefree launches campaign to market itself as own town,” an Arizona Republic article outlined the new partnership, of sorts, between the town of Carefree and the one year old Carefree Business Association (CBA).

Several points got my attention.  From the 2010-2011 budget, the town paid the CBA $12,000 for ‘a marketing campaign’.  In the recently approved budget for 2011-2012, that figure will rise to $72,000.  Not a bad raise for a 1 year old, although they did ask for $140,000.  The town eliminated $18,000 from the budget that would have gone to the Chamber of Commerce, an organization Carefree had supported, for years.  Okay, try something new, I get it.

By the way, that $18,000 will instead go to staff salary increases.

What I really didn’t get were the comments by councilman Miller.  He was quoted as saying, “that based on the success of that campaign, he supported the funding.” He went on to say “during that period, sales-tax revenue increased 3.8 percent in December; 2.6 percent in January; 3.8 percent in February, 6.1 percent in March; and 1.87 percent in April.” Really?

Mind you, we have no idea what he was comparing, do we?  It could be a variation of Chicago math, where one interested party supplies both sets of numbers for comparison.  Lately, it seems, there are politicians in our nation’s capital that use the same technique.
Here are the actual 2011 numbers compared to 2010: January increased 1.91 percent, February decreased 1.80 percent, March increased 3.77 percent, April decreased 3.22 percent, May decreased 1.84 percent, and June increased 1.28 percent.

The chart provided (above) is a factual comparison of the actual sales tax revenue in 2011 relative to 2010.  The figures come directly from State reports, and reflect the same reporting periods (months) for each year.  In other words, it is an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.

On a Calendar Year basis (6 months through June) Carefree had a loss of 0.15 percent from 2010, but on a full Fiscal Year basis Carefree earned 0.41 percent or $11,025 more than the prior Fiscal Year; that is less than ½ of 1 percent.

Miller concluded his remarks by asking himself, "if we didn't do this marketing, where would we be?"  For the answer, consider the $12,000 paid to the CBA and the $11,000 increase in sales tax revenue over last fiscal year; Carefree would be 23,000 bucks ahead instead of 1,000 bucks in the hole.

A few other financial oddities surfaced.  Can you understand the logic of spending $18,000 to $20,000 to construct a 24/7 self-service information lobby at town hall?  Me either.  And why would the new town budget project a 3 percent increase in Sales Tax revenue, when that revenue has dropped precipitously 3 years in a row?  Both items would be more reasonable for Miller to question.  The budget also reflects a 12 percent decrease in all other State/County revenue, yet some analysts suggest it is likely to be double that amount.  Go figure.

Once, during a prior recession (mid to late 1980’s), I asked an old friend, who happened to be a well-placed Harvard MBA, why his economic outlook was so gloomy.  He considered my inquiry for a few moments and then replied, “It is, what it is.”  I told him education wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.   In the end, numbers are what they are, not what someone wishes them to be.

While some of my comments may seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, the figures speak for themselves.  One should give serious thought to the town’s relationship with the CBA.  I’m not suggesting it is wrong, or otherwise inappropriate.  I merely suggest that without appropriate metrics in place to monitor activities against actual results, no qualitative or quantitative judgment of success can be made, at least any that would be believable.

John Traynor | Carefree

Federal Spending Cuts

I am so happy that Washington is finally getting their spending under control.
Two trillion dollars over 10 years is a lot to save. Did you know that the latest budget was 3.72 trillion, and did you know there is an automatic 7 percent increase each year for the next 10 years? Remember the magic of compounding interest? 10 years from now the budget will be 7.3 trillion with the automatic increases. Over the next 10 years the total increase is in the neighborhood of 18 trillion. GDP is struggling to hit 1.8 percent, so currently the Federal budget (and the Federal Government) is growing about 4 times as fast as the private sector. And these horses arses are preaching Sustainability to us. The word Sustainable is everywhere.

How about they try Sustainable Spending!

Ernie Bunch | Cave Creek


Stinking debt deal

Last week's “Debt Ceiling Deal” was a betrayal of the American people. One of the first bills they passed required a bill to be posted online for 3 full days before voting on. Congress broke the rule and voted on the hastily written bill the day after it was introduced.

The government blew nearly 60 percent of the immediate debt ceiling increase in just one day after final passage! They created a "Super Congress" appointed by Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell to ram future taxing and spending through Congress.

The politicians gave themselves a larger line of credit; the stock market went sailing downhill, the Dow lost 500 points the next day. It gets worse. It added 7 trillion dollars to the debt.

Some deal – they sold you and your family down the river.

The Republicans who overwhelmingly supported this deal are now going to go back to their districts and lie to their constituents that they cut spending.

The establishment's talking heads call this a “victory for the Tea Party,” but don’t let them fool you. If Tea Party members count this as a success, they are one step away from undermining all the work they've done over the past few years.

The Boehner deal only placated the Tea Party movement into believing that the Republican Party is “doing its best” to turn things around and blame it on the Democrats. They are flat-out lying.

Some politicians claim they are fiscally conservative, then lie to your face (also on a Town level). 70 percent of the Republicans just voted to sell you down the river. Here's Arizona’s Republican Hall of Shame who voted to bury our families in debt: Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, and Congressman Paul Gosar (R—1st). Call them at 877-851-6437.

Dina Galassini | Fountain Hills


Phoenix silences females

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) event announcement sounds innocuous enough:  An August 15 mayoral debate open to the public titled "Town Hall: The Next Mayor of Phoenix" asking "Who will lead Phoenix into the future?" the organization invites attendees to hear from mayoral candidates Wes Gullett, Claude Mattox, Peggy Neely and Greg Stanton.

Isn't there an "oops!" in there?

Where is mayoral candidate Jennifer Wright? Anna Brennan is also given short shrift.

The Chamber's website lists the following items that are prohibited during the event:
  - Disruptive behavior
  - Flash photography/video recording
  - Noisemakers
  - Signs

The group omitted the most important item from their list: ALL of the candidates.

Artfully parsing her words, Michelle Bolton, GPCC VP of Public Affairs and Economic Development announced: "This is the most competitive Phoenix Mayoral race in decades; the person elected for this position will have the responsibility of taking the reins of the city at a pivotal point for our community."

Tsk, tsk. In view of the omission of two of the women in the race, that constitutes an embarrassingly farcical statement, Ms. Bolton.

How about letting all of the voters watching the televised debate have the ability to responsibly make comparisons, minus the chamber's intervention?

American Post-Gazette | Distributed by COMMON SENSE, in Arizona


Phoenix Chamber Of Commerce (incomplete) Debate!

Jennifer Wright and Anna Brennan would be a breath of fresh air at City Hall as opposed to Gullett, Stanton, Mattox and Neely who are the Status Quo!  Old politicians who want to do the same as they always have.  How's that working for you?

Does the Chamber really want to disqualify Mayoral candidates from their debate because they did NOT raise $50K? Check out the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce debate with all 6 of the candidates.  Great Debate and a service to the community!  THANK YOU!
Phoenix Chamber of Commerce should really reconsider their arbitrary stand!


Nina Marlow | Phoenix


“Union full-court press” by Becky Fenger revealing

Kudos to Becky Fenger for her revealing article, "Union Full Court Press." She loudly blew the whistle on the deliberate exclusion of mayoral candidate Jennifer Wright from the important debate being televised on August 15.

Ms. Fenger's article exposed voters to "hardball politics at its ugliest" on the part of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. As hosts of the debate, they insist Wright is disqualified because she raised less than $50,000 in her first month of campaigning, even though analysts predict that she will place high in the August 30 election.

Ms. Fenger's column also revealed that unions are spending $2 million to influence this year's city election. I didn't know that, but I was aware that more than several of the candidates running for mayor or council have union ties or work full-time for a union. I urge Ms. Fenger to write a new column shining light on how this quiet little election, tucked away at the tail end of August, can mean the difference between entrenching union influence on our city government or a decisive break from union control.

Ms. Fenger did so much, so well, that I want her to do more. Before the August 30 election I hope she will write a column filled with revelations about how water bills and food taxes are being used to pay city payrolls. Pretty much everyone living in Phoenix is by now aware that water bills have skyrocketed over the last several years. This is no accident. It is directly related to the Phoenix budget for employee salaries and bonuses. Without these gigantic increases in water and sewer fees, and now the new sales tax on food, city employees would have to endure the severe recession just like the rest or us – without raises or bonuses.

Ms. Fenger correctly noted that Jennifer Wright is honest and intelligent, has good moral principles, and has accomplished a great deal. In other words, she is not a typical politician, but a real person with real principles who has promised that her Job Number 1, as mayor, will be to make the budget process transparent: Under Wright, it will be mandatory that the budget be published and available to councilmen and the public throughout the discussion process.

That will be a giant change from the secretive process the council uses today. I know this from personal experience, because I watched the blatant corruption of our city council unfolding before my very eyes. It happened last spring, the last day the council discussed the budget before voting to approve it.

Though this was my first council meeting ever, it was obvious to me that a fix was in. I saw the city manager bragging as he explained how he had saved the city millions on employee salaries. His explanation sounded false to me, but all councilmen seemed to accept it, except one, Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who begged to differ. When DiCiccio began speaking, I was amazed to see Mayor Gordon, a dark and slightly furtive figure hunched at the table, unfold and rouse himself to shout DiCiccio down, squelching this single brave attempt to question the budget.

The squelching of DiCiccio continued throughout the session in full view of the large audience present that day. We all witnessed the mayor of the 6th largest city in the U.S. publicly abusing a government representative duly-elected by the citizenry! Most disturbingly, the people holding the power in our city government apparently feel so entitled, so immune to retribution by the voters, they didn't seem to care how many bore witness to the utter crassness and dysfunction of this so-called deliberative body.

Ms. Fenger has exposed a great deal, but I must urge her to write another column detailing the Phoenix City Council's history of approving budgets, sight unseen, for over a decade! We have nothing but the word of our fast-talking, poker-faced city manager as proof that the public interest has been fully served throughout that time. In my view, that is no way to run a city, nor does it justify the city manager's salary of well over $200,000.

Given the extreme longevity of this mishmash of municipal management, no Phoenician should be surprised that the one candidate who has dedicated herself to bringing professionalism and principled decision making to our city government – Jennifer Wright – is being excluded from the most important debate, just two weeks prior to election day.

Wright also pledges to make it easier for businesses to open in Phoenix, which will help expand the tax base (Current regulations delay the opening of new businesses by about six months!) One can't help but wonder why the Chamber of Commerce, an institution supposedly in favor of furthering businesses and commerce, wants to prevent Jennifer Wright from speaking at the upcoming debate.

Ms. Fenger has done yeoman's duty by outing the GPCC's hypocrisy. But I urge her to press on and illuminate how important the council elections are to changing the DNA of the Phoenix City Council. The Phoenix mayor has but one vote. Jennifer Wright can't change the government all by herself. She needs at least four councilmen who share the desire to bring professionalism to our city government and will vote along with her to get that done.

Fortunately, there are six such principled candidates running for the council, and I exhort Ms. Fenger to bring them fully to the attention of Phoenix voters: Erick Frederick (Dist 1), Jim Waring (Dist 2), Bill Gates (Dist 3), Charlie Ellis (Dist 5), and Janet Contreras (Dist 7).

Marianne Ferrari | Phoenix

Strategic petroleum mistake

In June, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Obama Administration would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) “in response to the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries and their impact on the global economic recovery.”

Ever since, I have received letters from Arizonans who wonder why on Earth he would do that.  I share their frustration.  Like many of the president’s policies, this proposal appears motivated more by electoral politics than sound scientific and economic considerations.  It also ignores the most obvious ways to increase domestic supply and thus lower prices – allowing more exploration and development of our own American resources – in favor of what appears to be a political solution with questionable effectiveness.

The SPR, which contains about a 58-day supply of oil, was conceived in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo.  It was developed specifically to serve as a national-defense fuel reserve and to give the federal government a tool to respond to disruptions in commercial supplies.  And, in fact, it has only been tapped twice since its creation: first after the beginning of the first Gulf War, and then a second time in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – both of which posed genuine emergency threats to our oil supply.  It’s interesting to note that the SPR was not even tapped during the most recent war in Iraq.

With this is mind, it’s hard to understand how the recent conflict in Libya, a country that produces only about 2.12 percent of the world oil supply could qualify as an emergency worthy of expending elements of our limited strategic supply. While it is true that civil strife in Libya has put upward pressure on global oil prices, it has not appreciably reduced world oil supplies. And, as a result, tapping the SPR has neither insulated the U.S. from these events, nor done much to reduce oil prices.

The Energy Information Administration reports that crude oil prices have actually risen by nearly 10 dollars per barrel since the SPR was tapped. Tapping the SPR, therefore, appears to have been more of an attempt to show that government is doing "something" about gas prices, rather than a meaningful solution that could provide real relief at the pump. An editorial by the Washington Times concurred, calling the decision to tap the SPR "little more than an act of desperation by a White House that will do anything to avoid the consequences of its own inept policies besides change them."

If the administration is serious about reducing prices at the pump, it should focus more on fully developing our domestic energy resources.Opening areas such as Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the shale reserves in several western states, streamlining the permitting process for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and increasing domestic refining capacity are examples of policies that will truly reduce fuel prices while increasing our energy independence.

Arizonans have a right to be upset and disappointed by this decision.  For my part, I will keep pushing the administration to allow Americans to access and develop more of our own domestic resources – the surest way to lower prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on foreign supplies of oil.

Sen. Jon Kyl | Senate Republican


Common Sense and the Jackasses who have none

Let's be clear ... Our nations financial disaster has been caused entirely by self serving congressman and senators who have misused the nations wealth by injecting it into programs that have nothing to do with common sense and the good of the nation but has everything to do with getting themselves re-elected.  All these current jackasses as well as those before them have never done the job of making decisions based on the best interests of the nation as a whole and it continues on unabated.  They are, for the most part, a bunch of spineless jellyfish lacking the intestinal fortitude to make the tough decisions. 

Whether you agree with the "Tea Party" members or not, they are at least attempting to do what they were elected to do.

Here's a thought to save some money ... In this era of computers and instantaneous communications I think the staff of all congressmen and senators should be reduced by 25 percent and restrict their duties to the people’s business while prohibiting all of them from working on any and all re-election projects for said "employers." It might be well advised that these staff members also take a cut in pay as most "patriotic Americans' have been forced to do.

Tom Carbone | Phoenix


Robby Robbís debt-ceiling deal

John/Randy, Robby's piece has a subliminal message for all you left-wingers. He placed dingy Harry and his stooges on top of Jon. Notice the scowl on Murray’s face; by the way, Murray is still considered one of the top two dumbest in the senate. It's a toss up between her and "box of rocks" Boxer.

When I lived in Seattle she had a rep of not knowing enough to come out of the rain.

Bonus points:
Stevie's toon on the right should have read "print this toon." As you know his strings are pulled buy the left wing leaders at the RAG.

Monday's and Tuesday’s Rag only had a couple of pagers each and barely weighed 2 oz. But, you charged full price for the fluff.

Tom Zbytek | Scottsdale