Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thank Gordon for popping Sheriff Joe

Mayor Gordon took the gloves off today and called out Sheriff Joe on his woeful record on racial profiling, serving felony warrants, and selective political prosecutions. In his 5th State of the City address, Gordon needed just three short paragraphs to roast Joe and coin a new phrase to hang around the Sheriff's neck -- "Sanctuary County."
The Maricopa County Sheriff has 40,000 outstanding felony warrants sitting on his desk. And rounding up those people should be a priority. Instead, he has created a 'Sanctuary County for Felons' with his reckless priorities -- that target brown skin and cracked tail lights -- instead of killers and drug dealers.
To each of you in this room, particularly members of this Chamber, I invite you to join the chorus and let your voices be heard. Because this is not the image that Phoenix, or your businesses, has earned or deserves.
Will you pay a price for speaking out? Yeah, you might. We only need to look toward the deputies who have been fired, the publishers who have been jailed, or the Mesa, Phoenix and West Valley Chiefs who - along with elected officials like Rick Romley and Terry Goddard - have been targeted by his Selective Political Enforcement Unit.

An important point. The Governor has finally weighed in, albeit cautiously. When asked about the Sheriff's "crime suppression efforts" on Horizon tonight, she expressed concerns about racial profiling, prioritizing immigration sweeps over targeting violent criminals, and the lack of coordination with local officials. Those are exactly the talking points that Mesa Police Chief Geroge Gascon and Mayor Gordon have been using since Joe started his stepped-up sweeps a month ago. Kudos to the Mayor!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shadegg in trouble in CD3

I just received a report from a national pollster not aligned with either CD 3 campaign indicating that incumbent Republican John Shadegg is extremely vulnerable with less than 40 percent of voters supporting him for re-election.. Typically, an incumbent with a re-elect number of under 50 is considered to be in trouble. Here are some highlights:

1. 39% say they would re-elect Shadegg, 38% say they would support someone else

2. Shadegg has a 25% Favorable rating and a 22% Unfavorable rating. Again, terrible for any candidate, let alone a 7-term incumbent.

To see the 3-page pollling memo, go to:

And last week Mayor Phil Gordon endorsed Bob Lord for the District 3 seat:

I'd say Bob Lord is having a good week.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Phoenix is doing right by the arts

Sunday's Republic notes the growing success of the the downtown Phoenix art scene along East Roosevelt and Grand Avenue. The Mayor and City Council can actually claim some credit for this. First, they killed the football stadium in 2002 which would have wiped out the East Roosevelt galleries, along with most of the Garfield neighborhood. Then some city officals wanted to buy up the area for the biomedical campus; Gordon said no. Further west, last fall a developer wanted mid-rise zoning at 13th Avenue and Grand and was turned down by the Council. The City seems to actually have its act together for a change.

The Art Detour coming up this weekend is definitely worth a visit if you want to see for yourself. There are still to many vacant lots, so in that respect going at night is probably preferable.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phoenix crime is dropping

Today's Arizona Republic tells us that some categories of crime in Phoenix have "plummeted." The news is pretty good. "The rate of car thefts, rapes and aggravated assaults all plunged in 2007 under a new police strategy of focusing on criminal "hot spots" throughout Phoenix."

The Phoenix police do a pretty good job of laying out crime stats on the web, though I can't seem to find the year-end totals for 2007. One of the cooler pages are these hot spot maps that show where the crime is concentrated. I've been looking at these for a few years and one of the amazing things is the transformation of south Phoenix. Three or four years ago the area between the Salt River and South Mountain was covered with red and yellow, denoting heavy concentrations of crime. Now the map is almost completely green.

I imagine PD has targeted lots of the local gangbangers, but the other thing and probably just as important has been the economic revitalization of the area with shopping along Baseline Road, the Raven golf course, half-million dollar homes along the mountain and more affordable new homes along Southern Ave. Now if they could just do something about the Roosevelt School District.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama pro and con

Two articles on the New Republic webpage caught my interest this week -- the first, by respected historian Sean Wilentz is a lengthy takedown of Barack Obama that could have been written by Clinton strategist Mark Penn. The title, "How Barack Obama played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton," about says it all. The article has generated about 450 comments so far, overwhelmingly negative.

In stark contrast, political analyst John Judis goes back 200 years to put Obama in the context of "early generations of Americans (who) became captivated by the idea that they could create a future without reference to the past." See it here.

Judis' article is generally positive toward Obama but appropriately skeptical about the ability of any president to transcend politics in the way Obama is suggesting. It's sad that Wilentz the historian is reduced to the role of political hit man while the political pundit does the heavy historical lifting.