Facts, no nonsense
Credit: Chicago Tribune 2017
No More Pumpkin Garden in Carefree!
The 2019 edition of Carefree's Pumpkin Garden Festival was a flop. That's what happens when government wants to make things better.
10/12/18 Late Breaking News - a well placed source confirmed that Cave Creek has successfully landed Sprouts! Because Carefree's mayor Peterson did nothing on the water issue for the last five years, until he made it a political issue to help him win reelection weeks before the Primary, the 23 acres parcel on the northeast corner of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road has been unable to obtain a 'will serve' water letter from the Town of Cave Creek. All new developments since Cave Creek enacted their new water policy last December means that developers are now responsible for obtaining their own outside water and wheeling agreement to deliver to Cave Creek. This fact makes the development of that Carefree corner very expensive, probably prohibitively expensive. Thus Sprouts decided to go across the street to south Carefree Highway just west of the Chevron which is in Cave Creek town limits but served by Phoenix water. Sprouts would have been a huge sales tax revenue generator. Thanks Les.
10/12/18 - Even HOTTER NEWS: In addition the the news that our Town Administrator is seeking employment elsewhere, there is big restaurant news and real estate news, so read today's CFM Newsletter in the Archives.
10/11/18 - HOT NEWS: Paradise Valley selects Neiss as one of three finalists for their Town Manager position. Good luck PV!
Paradise Valley Town Manager finalists
Posted by Staff / October 11, 2018
(Editor’s note: News releases are published unedited, unless they contain factual errors.)
Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
The Paradise Valley Town Council is pleased to announce that, after a nationwide search, it is conducting interviews with candidates that have been identified for the Town Manager position. The Town contracted with a specialized executive search firm, CPS HR Consulting, and has been engaged in comprehensive recruitment efforts since July, which has included a national outreach process resulting in 65 applications for the position. A competitive pool of candidates is now taking part in a series of interviews as well as reference and background checks.
The three candidates who will participate in interviews with Town officials this week are:
Matthew LeCerf, who served as Town Manager of Frederick, CO with prior positions in Maryville, MO and Kingsland, GA. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Valdosta State University.
Gary Neiss, who serves as Town Administrator of Carefree, AZ with prior positions in Scottsdale, AZ. He holds a Master of Environmental Planning degree from Arizona State University.
Mark Perkins, who serves as City Administrator of Creve Coeur, MO with prior positions in Blue Springs, MO and Roselle, IL. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.
The Town Council advertised that we are seeking a committed, highly professional, and highly competent individual who has a positive record of achievement and who exhibits a history of both integrity and building constructive, positive working relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
I am pleased with the quality of candidates that we have reviewed thus far, and as always invite you to share any feedback on our search for a new Town Manager with me directly and/or with Vice Mayor/Mayor-Elect Jerry Bien-Willner who has been the point person for the Town Council on this successful process to date.
Yours in service,
Mayor, Town of Paradise Valley
10/09/18 - Although I was unable to attend the meeting in person, I did listen to the official recording, in its entirety, and have summarized the content in the current edition of the CFM Newsletter which is posted in the Archives.
09/30/18 - Council meetings continue to be an extremely hostile environment since June, and even though the election is long over, the winning mayor seems hell bent on vengeance against his challenger. In the next edition of CFM, you'll be able to read some of his proclamations. The Peterson campaign has morphed into the petty Peterson fiefdom. With only 6 weeks before his hand chosen council is sworn into office, he has decided to twist the knife. A trick, no doubt, picked up from his campaign attack dogs on the Hitchon team.
The CFM newsletter for September, located in the Archives, covers some dirty laundry as well as the September council meeting. Stay tuned for the upcoming term of a mayor who will clearly redefine the need for Term Limits.
08/14/18 - Contrary to the continuing vicious rumors the now outed and troubled P&Z commissioner initiates, this website is neither virus infected nor subject to malware injections. Just a desperate attempt to scare people away from this site. Save it for the new Pumpkin Festival Lyn. If you care to check yourself, look toward the top right corner of this page, below the About menu choice. The closest thing to an infection I've experienced was her visit here. In actuality, her grasp of real technology is as comprehensive as her grasp of reality and truth - non-existent. It troubles me to continually have to address the nasty lies and misinformation she peddles under the guise of Carefree Truth. It was more appropriate for me to focus on releasing the second part of my Election Perspective today. The newsletter has been sent via email, but is also available here for those who are not currently subscribed.
The Peterson campaign has bestowed credit on Les for lots of things, both real and imagined. In a few days I'll provide another list of things for which he also deserves credit. BTW, that long list of supporters in the newspaper ad and Facebook post by fellow slate candidate Cheryl Kroyer contains numerous names of people who did not commit political support to Peterson, as well as those not eligible to vote in Carefree elections. For all we really know the Russian hackers may even have entered many names. Someone mentioned that they spotted the names of a few dead voters from Chicago [no, I don't actually believe that.] I've been told that Cheryl took down the post, presumably because of complaints and/or critical comments. I don't waste much time on Facebook because it is not my cup of tea. Every once in a while some miscreant tweaks my buttons causing me to debate entering the fray. I dabble until they bore me or wear me out with ignorance or just plain stupidity.
Stay tuned, I'll be adding to Lester's List of Deeds...
08/11/18 - Election Newsletter, Part 2: The August Council meeting followed a
track similar to the prior two meetings, during which even the least controversial discussion item was turned into a political circus in an attempt to upstage or attack the mayor's opponent in the upcoming election. The theatrics are staged to provide photo and video opportunities for the Hitchons. The mayor's slate, led by a true follower, John Crane, made a series of end runs during Councilman Farrar's presentation of the Carefree Veteran's Memorial committee project. It seems that Crane is suddenly interested in the opinion of Carefree residents and voters, something he thought little about while trampling voter initiated Term Limits. Nothing is scared during the Peterson campaign, or to his slate.
The CFM Newsletter provides a brief recap of the meeting, along with a continuing perspective of this divisive Peterson election campaign. P.S. Don't cast a single vote for any slate candidate. They don't deserve your vote, and the Hitchons won't know how you voted, especially if you don't vote in Town Hall.
07/26/18 - Election Newsletter, Part 1: In lieu of the Council meeting update for July, I chose instead to provide a perspective of Carefree's Election season. The official election date is August 28th but early Ballots will go into the mail on 8/1. There have been lots of antics and negative commentary from the Peterson Campaign, some covered in Part 1, others to be covered in Part 2. Although mayor Peterson is responsible for leading Carefree government, he seems to be the one breaking all the laws, the unchallenged leader in that category. Add that to his complicity in trampling voter initiated Term Limits, and you have another very good reason for Carefree to have Term Limits. Get rid of Peterson and get Carefree back on a track of prosperity and transparency in your government.
07/03/18, Council Meeting, less Fireworks: On the eve of Independence Day there were far fewer bombs bursting in Council Chamber air than during the June meeting. You'll be able to read my recap and other current items of interest after the Holiday break. BTW, if you happen to know who owns a light blue small auto (perhaps a Fiat) with license # AVW-8140, please let me know. I'd like to ask the owner if they know anything about removing Farrar campaign signs from the area of the Post Office building on Easy Street, late at night. Very creepy.
P.S. Yes Lyn, I haven't forgotten that I owe you quite a bit. It's coming, just be patient, I have more important things on my plate than you at the moment. Besides you and Herbie must still be busy editing those videos.
06/08/18, Reply to COINS Misleading Email: Your recent COINS note on “Understanding Carefree Term Limits“ is brief but somewhat deceptive. It might be more appropriate to print the ruling by the judge, and his actual reason for that ruling rather than adding an interpretation of why Term Limits was never included in the original Carefree town code, or why no other town has considered it. More likely the ‘Carefree founding fathers’ never believed hanger’s-on would be a problem. They certainly didn’t like the overreach of the Scottsdale mayor and government but may have felt the good people of Carefree would never consider doing bad deeds. In recent years residents have observed more than one example of local overreach and more recently the desperate desire to hang on to a non-paid volunteer office.
Further, your explanation of John Crane’s actions, and what prompted them, appears to be light on facts as well as distorting the time line. The time line you suggest is more likely off by about a year since it was probably put in motion early last summer. Some people that attend meetings, even private ones, pay attention.
Things change over time, and when they do effective governments adapt to those changes. Think of seatbelt and DUI laws. Arizona added Term Limits to our State Statutes and now all of our State Legislators are subject to Term Limits. Numerous municipalities also adopted Term Limits. Just because the Legislature did not ‘expressly empower’ some municipalities to enact certain regulations does not imply that those certain regulations are illegal; they simply were not considered at the time. Carefree is not destined to remain in the past, and neither was the State. Changing administrations, like changing sweaty summer socks, is a breath of fresh air. You should not have ignored a super majority of our voters.
John Traynor, Carefree
06/06/18, Crane's Lawsuit Against Carefree Kills Voter Mandate: Just when I thought the Administration could sink no lower, a fierce, orchestrated, and carefully choreographed personal attack was launched against Councilman Farrar by none other than John Crane, Les Peterson, and the Town Attorney, Michael Wright. The latter attempting to perform his best imitation of a TV trial lawyer parading before a jury. Near the conclusion of the debacle, Councilman Krahe took a stroll through the audience while pontificating on the situation. He’ll object, but it’s on video. Only council members Orico, Hatcher, and Kroyer (attending via telephone) had the good sense to remain silent. Everyone is probably aware that this is election year politics at its worst ever, yet some out there will probably swallow the plot.
When a town mayor and his administration turned on voters, and one of their own, you may have witnessed the demise of civility in Carefree.
Ambush on Easy Street
Strategically, the mayor had waved the 3-minute speaking rule, presumably so that Crane, he, and the town attorney could go on and on with their theater and without regard for wasting our time with their antics. Their theater could have easily been performed in Executive Session, sparing the public from their embarrassing drama – but that was the political point wasn’t it gentleman?
The lawsuit filed by Crane against the Town of Carefree, the mayor, the entire Council - mentioned by name, and the Maricopa County Supervisors - mentioned by name was decided in favor of Crane, who was awarded $9,835 in attorney fees – we now know the cost of character in Carefree for some individuals. At least the County Supervisors were served with notice of the suit against them – our council members were not.
According to court documents, the final judgement was handed down in Superior Court on May 24. In various court documents, Crane’s lawyer argued that Carefree’s voter mandated Term Limits was invalid because the State Legislature has not expressly given certain types of municipalities the authority to impose certain laws/restrictions (my phrasing, not the documents, but I can produce the actual documents if necessary). The judge had issued a permanent injunction against the defendants thus preventing the town clerk from baring Crane from the ballot. This entire process was expedited so that Crane could make the May 30th filing deadline. The town attorney stated, during his roast of Farrar last evening, that he mounted a vigorous defense on behalf of the town and the named town representatives – lawyers must have a completely different definition of the word ‘vigorous’ than Webster. I will post documents which demonstrate that defense.
Speaking of defense, after quietly enduring the unending attacks on his character by fellow council members and the town lawyer, Councilman Farrar addressed the meeting. Without notes, without hostility, and without a prepared script Farrar humbly addressed the attacks against him. No doubt a video of this entire Call to the Public segment during the council meeting will be made public (mind you, it was a council meeting not a debate or political rally).
I will greatly expand on the disgraceful political theater that occurred last evening, covering the allegations made by members of the council and the town attorney. I’ll also be exploring the possible interference by a P&Z commissioner in the application process of a developer. All of that will take a bit of time, especially since I must submit an official Records Request to the Town Clerk in order to obtain documentation and correspondence relating to those matters, BUT they will be pursued. AND yes, Lyn, you can take that to the bank because I’ll make the time, especially for you.
God Bless America, and Carefree too. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
05/31/18, 12:03AM Late breaking update: regrettably I need to inform you of an ugly and thoroughly distasteful assault on the will of voters, to start to the 2018 mayoral election campaign. This newsletter will be somewhat brief, with more to follow after the June council meeting. Unfortunately, I was incorrect about “things remaining the same in Carefree”. This town administration has reached a new low. The Vice Mayor suing the Town, insider deals, and pre-trial financial arrangements between the plaintiff and at least one defendant all suggests that Carefree is perhaps sliding toward the political swamp that has permeated our nation’s capital for decades. All for what? A non-paid volunteer job! Please read on, it’s worse than you can imagine.
Desecration of Term Limits, Character, and Self-respect in Carefree
In 2009, voters had turned thumbs down on 4-year terms and staggered terms, both obvious power grabs. That set the stage for Term Limits. Dating back to last summer, I became aware that the Mayor and Town Administrator were pursuing some way around the voter-initiated Term Limits Proposition first approved by a substantial margin in the 2011Election. They worried that term limits would prevent the current Vice Mayor, John Crane, from running for reelection and sought the aid of town attorney Michael Wright. The wheels of injustice began to turn.
In mid-April I learned of a conversation between Council members Crane and Farrar, both subject to Term Limits. Earlier in the month Crane asked Farrar to join him in a lawsuit against the town to overturn Term Limits. Farrar declined. Once again, before entering an Executive Session, Crane asked Farrar to join the suit and once again Farrar declined. Presumably that Executive Session, given the timing and content of Superior Court documents now publicly available, was related to the proposed lawsuit.
For the record, and especially for the administration’s inspired doubters and hand-fed prolific blogger, those conversations were not privileged and not subject to the confidentiality afforded the all too frequent Executive Sessions scheduled by the mayor. For now, I’ll skip ahead to some of the truly disturbing and, in my opinion, unethical details of the lawsuit filed by John Crane against the Town of Carefree, the mayor, all council members, and Maricopa County Supervisors as defendants. The latter were thrown in for effect, even though they (through their attorney) made a representation of neutrality on the particulars of the lawsuit.
Bottom line, on May 21st a Superior Court Judge ordered an injunction in favor of Crane, primarily based on the assertion by Crane’s attorney [not disputed or argued against by the town’s attorney] that Carefree’s Term Limits Ordinance was invalid because the State Legislature has not empowered certain municipalities with the right to impose such limits. The State, and certain larger municipalities do have Term Limits [Thank God]. Mind you, the Carefree voters approved Term limits years ago, but not until a favored son would become ineligible for the upcoming election did a review or challenge of Term Limits occur. By the way, who drafted the Term Limits Ordinance, and its revision, in 2016-01? [much more later.]
I have obtained all Superior Court documents related to the Crane Complaint # CVC2018-006012 prepared April 19th and subsequently recorded in Superior Court on April 20, 2018. All pleadings and support statements are included. Shockingly, I could find no evidence to suggest that Carefree defendants received notice of the suit, notice to appear, or notice of representation by Michael Wright, who serves as Carefree Town Attorney at the pleasure of the mayor. Sounds like a major conflict of interest to me. The uninformed defendants did not have the opportunity to appear or testify. For the sake of discussion, I used the term uninformed, although I believe the basics of the plan were probably known to many defendants, or possibly discussed during an Executive Session. I also say, “probably known” because our often-touted town ‘transparency’ is frequently very foggy.
To put it politely [and with great restraint on my part, so far], John Crane, the mayor, a council majority, and members of the town staff have effectively thumbed their nose at Carefree voters, at least the majority of savvy voters who were insightful enough to support Term Limits. The very reason voters approved Term Limits was to minimize the possibility of a power grab and stranglehold by a select few, just recently demonstrated. Since the last election there have been several probable instances of mayoral overreach, those to be explored in future editions. Without Term Limits voters have only one recourse to remove problematic public office holders; perhaps this time will be the charm.
The final Court ruling was handed down Wednesday [the final date for candidate filings], I believe, so I’ll obtain a copy of that documentation as well. Did I mention that the Judge allowed only 2 two days for opposing arguments? Odd, considering that the defendants were never served with particulars of the suit filed against them – at least not all received notice, one way or the other. Anyway, I hope to upload much of the relevant information, including a supporting brief filed by Lyn Hitchon, which is no surprise considering that she is spoon-fed information from the town administrator and then has her material edited by none other than the Plaintiff, Vice Mayor Crane. [Yes, this has been confirmed, directly by the mayor, though he may choose to deny it or claim the edits are merely intended to assure the accuracy of an unofficial town publication. [Yeah, right.]. No matter, it is known. Former Councilman Jim Van Allen often brought this up and kept documentation of his discussions with the mayor and town administrator; he was a great and methodical record keeper. I even have a copy, from Jim, of an unofficial email sent to his personal account by the mayor which forbad Jim from attending a meeting between myself, the mayor, and town administrator. You have to really crave that nonpaying job, like John Crane and Les Peterson, in order to file a lawsuit to overturn the will of voters. As Yogi said back in 1973, “it aint’ over til it’s over.”
God Bless America, and Carefree too.
05/11/18, 12:03AM Late breaking update: Due to the wonders of the Internet's instantaneous communications, Carefree P & Z Commissioner Lyn Hitchon copied and then redistributed my 05/10/18 post (below), in its entirety and without my explicit permission. She then willfully forwarded my intellectual property to others. She could not have failed to notice the very real, legally filed Copyright notice at the bottom of each of my website pages. Once I became aware of her transgression, I sent an email to notify her I was now aware of her ill advised transgression.
05/10/18: Time flying doesn't begin to describe the past few months. With all the town sponsored fireworks during 'budget workshops' (now more town awards ceremonies than actual workshops) and the Council meeting, it is difficult to remember what day of the week it is. It has been even more difficult to overlook the fact that this is an Election year in Carefree. I remember when Council workshops actually involved people rolling up their sleeves and digging into the ‘work’ details! Deceased Councilman Jim Van Allen used to dig in and crunch the numbers the old-fashioned way, by hand, and always had valid questions and suggestions regarding proposed budgets. He had been criticized for questioning, accused of being wrong, and was even characterized as "hating everything" by Mayor Peterson. Jim loved Carefree, displayed his love publicly, and could still smell horse droppings even in this era of fancy electric cars.
In recent times these budget 'workshops' have become a tedious rerun of ‘what a great job everyone is doing’ and how wisely Marketing money is being spent, even though the town revenue is being supported by a "2-legged stool". In case you don't know what the missing 3rd leg is, it is called a Carefree Property Tax. The current Administration postures that they don’t want to impose a Property Tax. However, in town hall and during the Mayor’s private pitch to HOAs, faux deniers throw around the term 'Property Tax' like old sweat socks in a locker room - they claim to not like the smell, but they keep sniffing.
The recent budget workshops were a poorly disguised attempt by an incumbent Mayor and the Town Administrator to paint a mayoral challenger as renegade to their marketing plan (is it a plan or still a work in progress after 3 years?). It was clear, after two "workshops" that few, if any marketing plan details existed beyond the Pumpkin event and the now extended Christmas event, yet the Council was asked to vote in favor of another substantial amount of money (short of a half million, depending on how you count), without a well-documented and detailed plan to support the dollars requested. Successful businesses don’t run on blind faith. It seemed weirdly reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi’s plea to pass the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) so we could see what was in it – we have a pretty good idea what was in it now, and many Americans discovered it was not very affordable.
Anyway, one would hope that the Mayor and town staff will refrain from playing politics during future town meetings. Besides demonstrating pettiness, the public just doesn't care for it. It may be that the Mayor and Vice Mayor are hoping someone will perform selective video editing to demonize anyone expressing anything other than an affirmative head nod, or who dares to withhold an attaboy. After a protracted and somewhat confusing procedural exchange, the 2018-19 bottom-line budget of $8.6M was tentatively adopted by a vote of 5 - 2, with Council members Farrar and Orrico opposing. The opposition votes were predicated on wanting to review details of a Marketing plan before forging ahead on blind faith alone. I'm told the demonizing has begun.
Speaking of the Vice Mayor, John Crain, what can I say? Mayor Les Peterson and John Crane are a team attempting to flaunt the Carefree Term Limits statue, in defiance of voters who not only imposed Term Limits by a substantial margin but also upheld Term Limits by an even larger margin when challenged in a subsequent election. Councilman Farrar was also subject to term limits, but rather than breaking the law he has instead decided to seek election to the office of Mayor and continue to serve the residents of Carefree, which he is entitled to do under our laws. So, what don't the Mayor and John Crain get? Perhaps they believe lawyers will slip one past us. Because most of us understand that even nice people are capable of doing bad things, I believe voters will take notice. Why is this political team willing to retain, arrange, or work with lawyers to circumvent the will of voting residents? If these individuals feel the law is wrong, they could have worked within the election system to make their case to voters instead of paying lawyers to pull one over on us. Ask yourself why the Mayor and Vice Mayor think the law is wrong now but waited years before making these noises prior to an election year in which John Crane is subject to the force of Term Limits. Something really stinks.
Sadly, we live in an era in which a segment of the population does not accept the outcome of democratically held elections. It is sadder still that the same moral decay has entered Carefree Town government. I wonder if there have been payments to the town attorney in regard to this political matter? Is it possible that the Mayor, or other council members are willing to financially support an end-run around term limits? Let's hope not. Carefree may need a Special Counsel appointed to sort through this sordid mess. Perhaps even the Russian government has been involved, you never know!
Keep smiling, this will be interesting, as in, "may you live in interesting times."
03/09/18: Wow, time flies. Between the Holidays, the Flu, a Christmas/New Year trip to Paris and Basel to visit with our son AJ, and then some dental issues, the website and postings got away from me. I'll be playing catch-up and performing site maintenance in the two weeks ahead, but for now I'm posting the CFM March Council meeting newsletter and some presentation materials.
03/09/18 Town Council Meeting March 6, 2018: With just a few actionable items on the agenda the public meeting still lasted just over 2 hours. The big ticket item was the discussion and approval of the Easy Street North Amended Development Agreement. It affects only the North property previously owned by Mr. Ed Lewis. It is the area directly adjacent to the Post Office Building at 100 Easy Street. This resolution was approved by 7 - 0 vote. Details of this discussion can be found in the Archives here, as well as the presentations made by Gina Kaegi, Marketing director - Christmas Festival Update and Pumpkin Festival Update.
03/10/18 Town Council Meeting January 9, 2018: This belated addition should have been posted on 01/10/18, but I was unable to get to it. The full meeting summary can be found in the Archives.
In addition to the summary I prepared on 01/10/18, I have added an addendum. At the time I wrote the initial summary I did not have a copy of the Mayor's criteria for selecting Councilman Van Allen's replacement. He outlined his criteria just prior to the Council vote. Since it was far more extensive than the public notices the Town had published on several occasions in the months before the actual vote, I thought it would be of interest to resident who did not attend the meeting.
May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas
along with health, happiness, and prosperity
in the coming New Year!
12/12/17: The first ever Council meeting in the newly renovated 33 Easy Street Building was held on December 5th. Although there are a few punch list items to address and some new furniture and equipment to be installed, the new Council Chambers are very attractive and comfortable. The meeting was brief. You can read the summary in the Archives.
11/21/17: You have my sincere wish for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you travels may take you. We are Blessed. See the Thanksgiving note and issues involving the 'new' Post Office in the Archives.
11/08/17 Town Council meeting November 7, 2017: The November meeting was held in the Foothills Community Center as the new Council Chambers facility at 33 Easy Street is still incomplete. You can read the Newsletter summary in the Archives.
11/07/17 Celebration of Life, Councilman Jim Van Allen: The Celebration service was held this morning. The forthcoming Newsletter will have a summary, along with the Council Meeting report later this evening. A copy of my discussion notes can be viewed here.
10/09/17 Councilman James Van Allen: It is with great sadness, and a sense of true loss, that I inform you of Jim Van Allen’s passing Saturday afternoon.
Personal Note: In the stream of life I guess you could say that I didn’t know Jim very long, just about 6 years. Sure, I knew of him prior to that from his service with the MCSO Posse, and as a dedicated volunteer with the Chamber of Commerce and at various Carefree events. I had even been stopped and lectured by him for ‘rolling’ through a stop sign near my home. Jim was tough. He followed the rules and expected others to do likewise. Besides tough he was honest, decent, and dedicated to Carefree, giving generously of his personal time. Some might disagree, especially those unrelenting in their personal attacks and criticism of him, even during his last days. Some may breathe easier knowing that Jim won’t be watching or questioning any longer. Carefree residents have lost a truly dedicated friend and representative.
I may not have known Jim very long, but I knew him fairly well...
He’ll still be watching.
The October Council meeting summary is available in the Archives.
09/27/17 Some plans change, as did mine this past weekend: My good intentions to bring you up to date on several fronts got sidetracked so that I could help a friend. For now I'm just going to provide links to a few items that you may or may not have seen elsewhere. You can find them now in my Archives.
The first was a Letter to the Editor published in The Sonoran News on 8/16, titled 'Zoning For Dollar$'. A second Letter to the Editor, 'Where's the beef this time', SN 9/22, was a direct response to Carefree's Mayor Peterson who wrote 'Zoning for a promising future' which contained altered facts and several unsupported generalizations. I had to set the record straight and make it known that I would not accept the distortions and colorations, he presented, of meetings or events in which I was a part. There have been ample distortions and repeated character assassinations recently orchestrated by P&Z Commissioner Lyn Hitchon while the Mayor and staff apparently smile in Town Hall. Carefree doesn't need that kind of leadership or the Hitchon brand of vile attack letters. Carefree organizations and residents have had enough of that trash.
09/22/17 Lots to tell since August 29th, stay tuned this weekend: There is one important thing for my subscribers to consider right now: if you email the Mayor or Council, or have done so recently, those communications and any response you may receive become public records. However, they are not available for public review unless a Records Request [FOIA] form is submitted to the town, and 50 cents per page is paid for copies. Some readers have decided to copy CFM@CarefreesFutureMatters.com on their email in order to have their exchange more readily and more cost effectively available to others.
Why is that important? Real Transparency. The Mayor, and at least one Council member have been inviting individuals and groups to private discussions in order to 'clear up misinformation'. Such discussions are NOT public record and no 'paper trail' is kept. There is no accountability for any statements made by those elected officials, none. One recent example of an invitation from Mayor Peterson to a resident critical of the tall apartment complex development agreement read,
The Mayor was likely alluding to Councilman Jim Van Allen, the lone Council member that had asked the tough questions and ultimately was also the lone NO vote. He later explained that he could not, in good conscience, vote to approve a project that not only greatly exceeded commercial building height within the town core but also lacked the tangible documentation describing what the Council was actually voting to approve. Others on the Council apparently based their votes on trust, a few smiles, and handshakes.
Would anyone in their right mind purchase a new 'Luxury' home, yet to be designed, without any concrete details of what they would receive, based solely on a vague verbal description from the builder? I think not. Councilman Van Allen has since become the subject of ridicule and gross disrespect from an annoyingly vindictive termagant member of the P&Z and her husband. Forget the private meetings Mr. Mayor, it's long past time to dump the trash.
08/31/17 Council Meeting of August 29th: The Newsletter covering the meeting is now available in the Archives. In brief, your Town Council approved the (CUP) Conditional Use Permit & Development Agreement II for the Easy Street South parcel. The plan calls for a 6 floor structure consisting of 2 parking levels and 4 floors for 134 'Luxury Rental Units'. It will be a Tall structure fronting prominently on Easy Street. The Council approved 6 - 1, with Councilman Van Allen opposing.
On a different front, there will be further information concerning the proposed development of 100 acres located at the very northern side of town as well as the 35 acres on the east side adjacent to the Eastwood development coming soon.
08/22/17 Neighborhood meeting, 100 Acre Land Use Changes: This afternoon/evening there was a community meeting held at the Holland Center to discuss a potential request to rezone approximately 100 acres of land from Rural Residential to Low Density Residential and Rezoning R-190 to Residential Unit of Planned Development (RUPD). This is to allow for the development of 25 residential lots in far north Carefree, in Carefree Highlands, which is generally located north and east of 80th street alignment and Grapevine Road.
There were probably 3 or 4 times the number of residents in attendance compared to the Joint Workshop the Town conducted on 8/14. This was a somewhat more spirited Q&A gathering. It would be a fair to say that every resident in the area of the proposed development objected to the proposal. The primary point of interest, from my perspective, was the similarity of general concerns especially relating to lifestyle and development density that I heard from residents at this meeting and the concerns from the Stagecreek community meeting I attended several weeks ago. I firmly believe that all of us, regardless of where we live in Carefree, share common concerns about potential changes to the lifestyle and character of our town. I directed folks to the town website to review the presentation materials from the Joint Workshop. It can also be accessed by clicking here.
To the participants of today's meeting, that find their way here, I recommend that you consider subscribing to the CFM Newsletter, through which I will keep you informed about land use and potential zoning actions that may occur in Carefree. You can do so from the Contact page or by sending an email to: CFM@CarefreesFutureMatters.com, with the word Subscribe in the subject line. I would also like to hear from you regarding any information or activity that comes to your attention, since I live a bit more than 500 feet from the proposed site.
More on this subject in the days ahead.
08/22/17 Slight Correction to 'Zoning for Dollar$': In the August 16th edition of Sonoran News my letter to the editor incorrectly implied that the Carefree would not receive any ongoing revenue from the proposed luxury rental apartment complex on the south parcel which has been owned by Ed Lewis. In reality, after the initial Construction taxes/fees are paid the Town would receive local sales tax revenue on rental income. I overlooked the fact that local sales tax revenue from rental income is not limited solely to hotels. That oversight / error was mine alone.
Council discussion of the proposal is expected at the September Council meeting on 8/29. Assuming that the Development plan receives Town and Council approval, and also assuming that the project actually comes to fruition, there would be a local sales tax revenue stream generated from units rented. My thanks to Councilman Michael Krahe for pointing out my oversight. Our lively exchange of perspectives this morning was invigorating - and hopefully mutual. As I said during the Joint Workshop, discussion is better than no discussion, and discussion leads to solutions. Councilman Krahe and I agree that residents deserve to have all the information on topics that will affect Carefree so that they can arrive at an informed opinion and participate at the public meetings to address those topics. I'll do my part to keep you informed and aware of those important meetings; your part is to make your opinions known.
08/21/17 COINS Email of August 20th: It is always valuable to receive news and important updates from the Town. It is also import to understand that COINS is a combination of news, marketing, and advertisement material.
Critics be advised, I do not claim the following is news; it is my perspective.
The current edition of COINS contains information relating to the recent Joint Workshop of the Town Council, Planning & Zoning Commission, and two members of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee (LRFPC). What is now being labeled as a “strategic plan” is actually an overview of historic data and a current perspective of the continuing decline in revenue. It is not a plan but rather a presentation of several possible scenarios. I would be remiss if I did not provide a few counterpoints to statements in COINS, the same counterpoints I raised throughout the 2 years I served on that LRFPC.
More and more frequently you are hearing Town officials use the term ‘Property Tax’, or ‘Real Estate Tax’. I have continuously objected to the unending reminders that Carefree does not have a local property tax. Some people may believe that the more often you hear a word or phrase the more accepting of that word or phrase you will become. Carefree voters have soundly rejected the possibility of a property tax by placing restrictions on the Town Council’s ability to approve one. It would take a super-majority Council vote to even get the question on a ballot. It would then take a majority of resident voters to approve such a measure. In the workshop presentation material there is a slide labeled, “Primary Municipal Revenue Sources ($000)”. Three items are listed, one of which is Property Tax. The figures for all years documented in that category are $0. Under the chart you see “Source: Carefree Audited Annual Financial Statements.” There is no such revenue category in Carefree’s financial statements. Why do you suppose property tax is listed as a source of Carefree revenue?
A bit further in the COINS email you saw the following:
There were no higher density communities adjacent to (‘next to or adjoining something else’) the new Eastwood project on the south side of Cave Creek Road. The Council allowed rezoning of that area for the explicit purpose of approving a high density community. Town officials made reference to the community of SkyRanch (north of Cave Creek Road) as an adjacent high density community. I suspect Realtors would not view the venerable upscale community situated across a four lane divided highway as “adjacent to”. Further, the Villas to the west of SkyRanch Airpark are nearly a mile away which doesn’t meet the criteria of ‘adjacent’ in my book.
In an appropriate location, a high quality resort would be a welcome addition to Carefree’s Commercial revenue generators; strip malls and fast food restaurants probably not so much.
08/16/17 Joint Council and P&Z Meeting Presentation Slides: Click here
08/14/17 Joint Council and P&Z Workshop: The meeting was a long one, wrapping up shortly after 7:30 last evening. Public attendance was sparse, possibly due to the COINS notice of a 2 - 2.5 hour session!
At the start of the joint meeting Mayor Peterson took a few moments to address a notice that had been displayed at the 100 Easy Street location of our Post office facility. Here is a brief summary of information, which also appeared in COINS:
It has come to the Town’s attention that the current Carefree Post Office Manager, Maxine Douglass, has posted a letter on the building doors stating they are saying goodbye. The Town was not aware of this and as we hear more, we will keep you informed. We are sad to see the employees go after many years of dedicated service and have received more information as to what is happening. Please be reassured that the postal service will continue in Carefree but not by the current postal subcontractor.
Once again the Town will keep you informed as we learn more. Again, we are very sad to see the existing, dedicated postal employees leaving town and wish them the best in the future
The presentation was directed by Mayor Peterson, and it was extensive. It covered a great deal of material, both historic and current, and was frequently interspersed with lively discussion among participants. The financials painted a picture of the Town's revenue and expense lines crossing in the not too distant future (5 to 8 years) as revenue continues to decline for a variety of reasons. I'll not go into all of that information at this juncture since I plan to make a copy of the slide materials available online in addition to expanded information on several topics.
As expected, the potential Land Use policy was the topic which generated the most comments/discussions. It was noted, more than once, that members of the Council, P&Z Commissioners, and resident advisers all live nearby one or more of the land parcels being considered for some type of development. High density - low density residential, types of commercial and where, as well as potential for resorts - everyone has an opinion on each topic.
In the end, more discussion is better than no discussion and certainly the support of residents for the Town's land use policies is essential for Carefree's future. Residents are the town; they founded it, they guided it, and love of Carefree's unique character has helped it grow. The Town Hall staff are merely advisers who are tasked with providing information to assist in the decision making process. They don't get to make those decisions. Most, if not all, of our Town Hall staffers are not Carefree residents. You can count on learning more about current and future plans as information becomes available, from a variety of sources. You’ll also hear more about terms such as ‘Real Estate Tax’ (property tax), ‘Remnants’, and ‘Legacy’.
As the joint meeting was breaking up, shortly after 7:30, the Mayor took a moment to thank the resident advisers for their time and contributions, and to release us from further Committee participation. At this moment I'm uncertain if that is a good thing, or not.
08/13/17 Petition Opposing Stagecreek High Density Development: Mr. Gordon Chagrin, a nearby resident on the south side of Stagecoach Pass near the proposed Stagecreek development, has created an online petition opposing the rezoning and development of 118 homes on that 35-acre parcel. You may find the petition here, Petition opposing Stagecreek development
On a personal level, I am not in favor of rezoning those 35 acres from Low-Density Residential (R43) to a far less restrictive RUPD which would permit significantly more homes than the original plat would allow, raising the number of from 31 homes to 118. I have already signed the petition.
08/13/17 Joint Council and P&Z Meeting Monday: This brief edition is intended to provide you with information that should be of interest to all Carefree residents as well as neighbors in surrounding communities.
I’ve previously written about the next proposed, high density, development adjacent to Eastwood, between Cave Creek Road and Stagecoach Pass. A quick look at the General Plan indicates that there are only a few relatively large parcels of undeveloped land remaining in Carefree. Current economic factors suggest that more houses per acre and some focused commercial development have become central themes within our town government.
This Monday afternoon/evening there will be a joint meeting of the Carefree Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission at the Holland Center, 34250 N 60th St, Scottsdale, starting at 5PM (Building B, Quail Room). The Mayor is expected to present a combination Long Range Financial Outlook & Economic Development Plan for Carefree over the next 5 years and beyond. It will encompass our recent past, present, and future economic situations. He is expected to outline several steps, or initiatives which are on the drawing board, and will include potential development plans for certain land parcels within the town. The presentation will be comprehensive.
The proposed development of Stagecreek (118 homes on 35 acres) may be mentioned as part an overall land development strategy, but there is not expected to be any voting on that specific matter at this time.
As I mentioned earlier, I encourage everyone interested in hearing the Town’s strategy for Economic Development and Land Use to attend. Monday, August 14th 5PM at the Holland Center. Carefree’s future as a quiet, semi-rural enclave will ultimately be in your hands.
07/23/17 StageCreek Community Meeting: The meeting outlining the proposed development across from Sky Ranch & Airpark was held at the Holland Center on July 18th. Although I did not take an actual count, there appeared to be between 25 and 35 people in attendance. Rather than repeat the contents of the newsletter I'll be sending out, you can read it by clicking here.
07/16/17 Council Meeting of July 11th: My last update sure generated quite a few comments, almost exclusively very positive, and a few (indirectly) just a bit more than negative. That’s life, here in Carefree as it is everywhere that free speech is still tolerated. I gave you my perspective and made that clear. When this Newsletter and associated website were started I made a point of saying, “Facts, no nonsense”. When I do express my opinion I try to make that clear and I don’t pretend it is news. Now I’ll get back to the more typical Council meeting updates and some other news. You can read the current Newsletter here.
Late Breaking News: It has been brought to my attention by a neighbor that there is another high-density development being proposed for the 40 acre parcel with Eastwood on the east border. The property is bordered on the west side by Windmill Lane and sits on the south side of Cave Creek Road across from Sky Ranch Airpark. An original plat plan filed by a different developer several years back called for 40 homes in a gated community. This new development anticipates 118 homes and will require zoning changes and probably an amendment to the Carefree General Plan. If approved, after review and discussion by the P&Z Commission, the plan would go before the Town Council for their final approval. A letter advised that a meeting will be held at the Holland Center, Quail Room, at 6PM on Tuesday July 18th, presumably open to the public. You may view the letter and preliminary plan layout for StageCreek on the CFM website, here.
[OPINION: My perspective as a close neighbor to both Eastwood and this proposed development is that it appears the town may be willing to change the semi-rural character of Carefree’s east end, forever. Sadly, construction revenue is short lived and will not sustain any municipality unless the municipality has attractions to draw in both residents and visitors who are willing to open their pocketbooks in Carefree establishments. You may recall that when Eastwood was approved, after much discussion, and the existing zoning was changed to allow high density, we were assured that Eastwood would serve as a “buffer” between the low density zoned land to the west and the Garden Office complex to the east. What will be said about this new development, if approved? Another “buffer” or will it be yet another opening to more high density development on the adjourning 40 acres to its west?]
07/04/17 I'm back: On a personal level it's been a very difficult few months. I'll dispense with those details which are irrelevant in light of bigger issues facing Carefree. It is time to share some unsettling things, and yes, my opinion. If you are put off by that, so be it. Sometimes the real world is neither pleasant nor as we wish it to be. We have a town government which is losing perspective and a clear understanding of why people live here and love the Carefree they moved here to enjoy. For 3 years now the town has washed away more than $1.4 Million in Sales Tax revenue on Marketing which has yielded zero tangible results. Businesses continue to struggle, or worse yet, simply fail. The town implements plans and events that can actually be detrimental to business opportunity. Our seasonal visitors arrive in October and leave in May, as they always have, yet they are spending less and less money here while taking advantage of all our free marketing events. Capital projects, such as Gateways and lighting up empty parking lots also add nothing to the coffers. I'm sick of hearing some people say it was necessary. People found Carefree long before GPS, signs, lights, and Gateways were implemented. Was some additional lighting a good thing? Probably, but enough is enough. This isn't the city, this is rural living and so flashlights can be useful devices. Those craving city services, city lights, and cramped living are welcome to live in a city that already provides the things they enjoy, or need, without attempting to transform this environment into something it was never meant to be. How many more years should Carefree throw money at the same stone wall without ever cracking it? The town has even resorted to rezoning our desert acreage into much smaller lots, well outside of the accessible core, all to increase short-term income from construction fees - that won't last or sustain any town. If left unchecked it will likely continue until Carefree completely loses its character. Who wants that?
At the core of these struggles we employ a town administrator who has been not so discreetly throwing around the phrase 'property tax', yet has been unable in 8 years to return Carefree to the prosperity we once enjoyed, while towns all around us have rebounded from the 2008 debacle. Instead of constantly highlighting his 2-legged stool lament perhaps he should be focusing on a large center support structure in lieu of fragile legs. Existing property and business owners seem to be ignored, or disparaged, in favor of pursuing outside interests. Perhaps some will be attracted but at what cost. The Easy Street project received several very favorable incentives and lots of press yet Carefree, with all of its beauty & charm continues to languish. Who will be the next potential investor to be granted favorable treatment while long standing investors just get to hang on with little to no support. Being unable to manage an economy that has prospered on thriving businesses and their Sales Tax revenue for more than 3 decades of incorporation, and prior, he'd probably like to have a Property Tax to cushion the ineptitude. Who, in God's name, actually believes he'll do better with more of our resident tax money? Not me, and not the seniors on fixed incomes. If he couldn't manage our local economy before a Property Tax what would make anyone believe he could use Property Tax money any more wisely? In reviewing the newest budget, it sure seems that the only economic benefit goes to those who are spending the money. What sound business hands out large salary increases as it faces declining income and rising expenses? Only governments with the ability to tax can get away with that strategy. You'll hear all about grand plans, as you did with the Easy Street project, awards for projects that yielded no income, and grants that any municipality with competent management would have obtained. It's beyond time for a change in management and a new focus.
Have a Happy and safe Independence Day Holiday
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