Policies, not platitudes
A lot of what I’m going to be talking about on this campaign will be, frankly, pretty boring for most people. Everything government is doing costs too much and takes too long. There is nobody else focused on doing the things we’re already doing better, lowering costs and seeking efficiencies. The only solution ever put on the table is to spend more money. It isn’t working. Government is taking more and more of your money, and delivering less. Left and right, we can argue policy and ideas all day but if our government is incapable of carrying out those policies effectively – and at reasonable cost - we will never deliver the value you deserve for your tax dollars.
Worse, there are no new ideas. Cities across the country are relentlessly copying one another, but the policies being replicated have already failed. Does it make any sense at all for Phoenix to adopt the same policies to address homelessness, housing, transportation, policing, and crime that San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have implemented? Are those policies working in those places? The answers are “no”; and, “have you seen how many people moved to Arizona this year?” Yet that is exactly what we are doing, and it’s insane.
I won’t do that. I will not campaign on platitudes or sound bites. Below, you will find summaries of my ideas: the things we can do to change the direction of our city and improve the lives of all our citizens. Some are basic. Some are complex. And if you have better ones, I want to hear them. Over the coming weeks, I will present white papers expanding on my ideas in each area. Further, if you want to talk any of these over, call me. I will be happy to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and discuss any and all ideas; my own, yours, or anyone else’s.
Phoenix does have a “Master Plan,” but the reality is it’s basically just a document to avoid fights over zoning and planning decisions – something politicians can point to if they need some cover while supporting an unpopular development or land deal. There is no comprehensive vision for the future of Phoenix. There is no real leadership, and hasn’t been for some time.
We need to change that.
The City of Phoenix is in a very precarious place with our budget. The current Mayor and Council have, recklessly, increased the risks ahead of us by spending far more money on an ongoing basis than we currently project to have.
The good news is that we can reduce costs without reducing the quality of services provided to our residents.
Homicides and violent crime are up everywhere, even here. So are all the various minor crimes – many of which no longer even get reported, much less prosecuted, because the criminal justice system has been perverted by extremists who believe that the law should not apply to certain groups.
Current approaches are not working, and are more or less the same everywhere. Simply throwing more money at the problem will accomplish nothing.
Rather than continue to follow these failed examples, we need to change the system.
Efforts to build a high-speed public transit system have been damaged by the failure of the current council to develop a comprehensive approach to public transportation, and a disastrous record of cost-overruns on light rail.
We need reliable, fast public transportation that works with our city's size and sprawl.
We cannot simply continue to raise prices year after year without taking simple steps that are already being utilized effectively in the private sector. Continuing to raise prices year after year hurts our poorest citizens.
Phoenix has been proactive in securing our long-term water supply. We have the resources necessary to sustain our population – and growth – for a couple hundred years to come, but these measures can only take us so far.
It’s time for the next generation of Phoenix and Arizona leaders to get serious about securing a new, sustainable supply of fresh water for our future.
Urban heat islanding is doing real damage to our city. It raises electrical costs for everyone. Makes our days unbearable, our nights barely less so. It wasn’t this way even a few decades ago.
There are three very simple things we can do to stop and even reverse this trend.
In the last year, housing prices in Phoenix have risen almost 30%. Prices are skyrocketing, and long-time Valley residents are being squeezed out by transplants from California, Chicago, and elsewhere. The scope of the problem has long since outgrown the possibility that government will be the solution.
We have to break the problem into three component pieces: affordable, workforce, and market housing.
If we don’t want to head down the same path as many failing coastal cities, we have to get smart about building the Phoenix of the future. What does that look like? Phoenix had the right idea a long time ago – to create urban villages within our city where people can live, work, and play all within a relatively small geographic area. We just haven’t done a very good job delivering on that vision. It’s time to recommit to, and expand on, these ideas.
parks & rec
First, it’s critical that we maintain and expand our existing network of flat land parks and mountain preserves. These are a treasure for all of our residents, current and future, and continued strong stewardship of these vital resources must be maintained and expanded.
Additionally, we need to start looking at how we connect parks, greenbelts, open spaces, and streets which have been redeveloped as Complete Streets within communities to create high-quality exercise loops and paths.
Many people mistakenly believe the City of Phoenix has some role in our public schools. The truth is that we have no control over them, whatsoever. They are entirely separate political entities. That doesn’t mean we can’t and don’t have a role in education.