Us or big developers? - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

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Us or big developers?

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Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:00 pm

The Phoenix District 6 council run-off election is Nov. 3 between incumbent Sal DiCiccio and Dana Marie Kennedy. This is a clear choice between tawdry more of the same city governing or refreshing thoughtful change.

Sal is the candidate “bought and paid for” council pawn for big developers and their enabling phalanx of land use/zoning attorneys. Through Aug. 20, 2009, Sal had collected $225,160.80 campaign dollars (an obscene amount for a district race) from 667 contributors; the breakdown shows 87 percent from developers and their attorneys. The maximum lawful contribution for a council candidate is $410 per person. This overwhelming “pay to play” by one large business group is vulgar to the extreme, and Sal is their guarantee with Phoenix City Council that their interests are accommodated.

Sal is a real estate strip center developer. Most recently per Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Council Agenda records of Aug. 20, 2008 and July 1, 2009 show: “Resolution Approving the First Amendment to Business Lease #BL00102007, A Lease Between Certain Allotted Land Owners of Land Within The Gila River Indian Community, the GRIC and *LDR-Zenith SWC 40th and Pecos, LLC” (*LDR-Zenith is an investor group; Zenith is Sal’s development company and together they are partners for this site development as an LLC). *LDR is Levine, Davidson and Rye, and each one gave $410 to Sal’s campaign.

There are four of these similar LDR-Zenith resolutions, two of which include Paul Gilbert, a $410 contributor, an attorney with Beus and Gilbert and a ubiquitous zoning attorney at Phoenix council meetings.

The southeast and southwest corners of 40th Street and Pecos Road will be a prime commercial location if the Route 202/South Mountain Freeway (SMF) is built. More importantly, this is a huge investment incentive for Sal to work ADOT and MAG to assure its construction. Conflict of interest? Big time!

This is a conflict of interest not disclosed by Sal and is inimical to his stated finality of the SMF being built on Pecos as he stated clearly at his June 27 community gathering at Nello’s in Ahwatukee.

Sal also has not disclosed support from major land owners adjacent and near to the MAG- and ADOT-approved SMF alignment through Laveen along 51st Avenue and north to the proposed intersection at 55th Avenue and I-10.

One large landowner, Ruskin Lines of Gilbert, together with family members own more than a dozen large tracts in this Laveen area; each of 13 members contributed $410 ($5,330) to Sal’s campaign. None lives in District 6, and all described holdings are in District 7. The future development potential on this SMF alignment and resulting anticipated fortune is Sal’s incentive to see the SMF approved, built and opened. To hell with its unspeakable adversity to and violation of citizens’ right to peaceful and healthy living quality as stated in the Phoenix City Charter.

Sal is concurrently working today with many of his major developer contributors (Shermer, Vestar and Ellman, among others) to materially change the planning and zoning on East Camelback Road. This is the heart of District 6 between 16th and 44th streets. This area since 1991 has been protected by the Camelback East Primary Core Plan, which was amended in 2006 to be effective to 2020. This is a policy and regulatory approved plan passed by city councils since its inception in 1991.

In recent meetings (May and July 2009) with Sal, he told Paul Barnes, Jeff Fine and me that plans aren’t fixed and are meant to be broken. Not regulatory plans without substantiated and council approved cause.

The East Camelback Plan is protected for vital, proud neighborhoods and the corridor’s commercial interests. it is in place because of cooperation among all affected interests who worked thousands of hours to develop it along with city staff and different mayors and council administrations.

Sal’s conflict of interest, self interest and political interest are his future income opportunity from the SMF and East Camelback corridor. It is motivated by avarice. He is not focused to serve neighborhoods except as it might be an ancillary benefit from his potential development opportunities with his Pay to Play supporters. This political ploy by Sal will destroy Ahwatukee’s, Camelback East’s and Central Phoenix’s right to expect honorable representation and complementary right to enjoy strong, vital and peaceful neighborhoods.

My recommendation for the City Council District 6 election Nov. 3 is Dana Marie Kennedy. She is a very able, intelligent, straight forward and articulate lady with a B.A. and M.A. in social studies. She has 20 years of quality experience working to improve lives and quality of living for working families, retirees and young people.

Dana is dedicated to leading a fresh approach and direction for Phoenix governing. She is focused upon representing citizens of District 6. Her No. 1 special interest is us. Our neighborhoods, our communities and the services and programs we pay for with taxes will be her priorities. Too long Phoenix has been pedaling at idle. We need a fresh look, re-evaluation and direction.

Dana Marie Kennedy is an Ahwatukee resident, and as we do, she wants Phoenix to progress with best governing principles for the citizens and the entire city.

In August 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a memorable speech in Kansas. He said, “Ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.” (Source: The Promise of American Life, Herbert Croly, 1909). This is apt for Sal and the campaign he’s running.

Join me in support of Dana Marie Kennedy to serve District 6 with your vote Nov. 3.

 

Greta Rogers is a retired real estate agent living in Ahwatukee Foothills.

 

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