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Archive for January, 2011

31st January
written by Arizona Kid

So I had several hours to ponder the question of whether or not our elected officials were actually ready to step up and do what needs to be done. The answer is “no.” Here’s why:

While I know there are exceptions, the number one job of almost every member of the House and the Senate is to remain a member of the House and the Senate. They may give all the lip service in the world to grand and glorious ideas such as reducing the deficit and government spending, tax reform, shrinking government, restoring American business competitiveness and other wondrous things … but the one thing they’re focused on every single day is their reelection. Every utterance, every vote, every public statement is a carefully choreographed part of the reelection dance. Keeping those coveted 3P positions (power, privilege and prestige) means votes — and votes mean pleasing the voters — and there’s the problem.

The truth is, the voters aren’t ready to see the problem solved. Oh, to be sure, some are … but most aren’t. One of the problems, of course, is that we have too many people walking around with voter registration cards who shouldn’t have them. What did you think was going to happen when the Democrats passed a law requiring welfare case workers to ask someone applying for welfare if they would also like to register to vote? This wasn’t the law of unintended consequences at work here, these consequences were entirely intended. Democrats knew full well that every welfare recipient registered to vote would be an undying and loyal Democrat vote, some even after they were dead. Oh, you didn’t know they passed a law requiring voter registration during the welfare application process? Maybe that’s because you know the law as the “Motor Voter Bill”. Actually, that was a pretty clever PR victory for the Democrats. They passed a law providing for the registration of welfare recipients, they added people applying for driver’s licenses to the law, and the media immediately starts calling it the “Motor Voter Law.” Can you imagine the outrage we would’ve had if the people had known that Congress had passed the “Welfare Voter Law?” At any rate, the goal was to get people who were dependent on the government to the voting booths on election day knowing that they would vote for the politician who those checks coming, and promised even more.

It’s not just the welfare recipients, of course. There are many millions of people who earn a perfectly good living and the private sector out there who are, in one way or another, dependent on some government program or handout. We have corn farmers in Iowa who suck money from the public treasury and destroy our internal combustion engines with this ethanol scam. We have thousands of American corporations who depend on taxpayer money to promote their products and services both at home and abroad. I could go on for an hour here and the list would become very long, but you get the big picture. Millions of Americans and American businesses are getting their little sliver of pie from the taxpayers through the government. Another example would be the green energy movement. This is something that is being driven almost wholly by the government, not by consumer demand. In a private sector economy. I doubt very seriously you would have somebody out there manufacturing solar shingles. The whole ethanol scam, of course, would be dead as would much of this wind power business boom were supposed to be experiencing. So when somebody comes along and starts talking about cutting government spending you have corn farmers, windmill makers, shingle manufacturers, and various recipients of corporate welfare programs who, along with the moocher class, are going to show a decided lack of enthusiasm.

Then you have the Social Security and Medicare crowd. They just don’t want to hear that they are part of the problem. They have paid their taxes, and work to make America great, and it is a complete outrage that somebody would come along right now and tell them that changes have to be made in Social Security and Medicare. Now you can tell your average Social Security recipient that absolutely nothing is going to happen to their Social Security benefits, and they are still going to fight any change in Social Security. The Republicans proposed a change in the age of eligibility for Social Security. The change would not have taken effect for almost 70 years. Even though it was highly unlikely that those now collecting their Social Security benefits were going to still be around when the change in the retirement age actually occurred, they acted like somebody was trying to rob them and leave them for dead in an alley somewhere.

The politicians see all this. They’re watching. They’re listening. They know that corn farmers vote. They know that the elderly on Social Security are some of the most consistent voters out there. And they know that the moocher class will vote, and that that those votes will be based on nothing other than which candidate is going to take the most money from the taxpayers who have it, and give it to them.

So in the face of all of this, do you think the politicians are really going to be dedicated to the idea of smaller government, less spending, and lowering our deficits? Sure, don’t get all the lip service they can spare. But they know where the votes are, and they need those folks. Without those votes suddenly they are just ordinary civilians like the rest of us.

Bottom line? The corn farmers are going to have to rely on finding a willing customer for their products on the open market place. The elderly are going to have to accept changes in Social Security that will not affect their current benefits. People who rely on the government for medical care are going to have to embrace private sector solutions. In other words, the old American example of self reliance must return. Our independence from Great Britain, our very freedoms, were not earned and will not be preserved by people who constantly look to the government for solutions to every problem they face on a day-to-day basis.

So for right now, let’s face it. Let’s recognize that these politicians are going to keep doing that what it is that makes them politicians. They’re going to keep doing whatever it is that gets them elected. We are the ones that have to change, not them. And sadly I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

29th January
written by Arizona Kid

Arizona has a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way this state operates. The Republicans are firmly in control of the House and Senate with veto proof majorities. Gov. Brewer is in her last term and we’ve already run  the social conservative bills last session (guns, SB1070, fireworks).   Can the Arizona government get it right in this session?

Here are a  few game changing bills. They will certainly get stiff opposition from the League of Cities and Towns among other special interests.

SB1322 - This bill would require all cities over 500,000 population (Phoenix, Tucson, maybe Mesa) go out to bid for all City services except for police, fire and courts. The City can also bid on the service but they would have to justify what they are paying versus having the private sector perform the duties.  This is a bill coming out of Phoenix from Councilman Sal DiCiccio who’s been a strong advocate of bureaucratic reform.

SB1286 – This bill would expedite the permitting process by automatically approving permits if the municipality hadn’t acted within 60 days. My fear is there are too many loop holes to reject a permit or stall the process without going through a formal denial.

SB1339 – This bill throws out ALL Arizona agency regulations that have not been voted in by the legislature.  Various agencies from ADEQ to transportation to education to permitting and IT would throw out every agency generated rule and directive. They agency would then have 18 months to present the rules they would like to have codified by the legislature. This action would remove the thousands of agency rules that should have sunset years ago.  The farmer that gets the $5000 fine for excessive dust while plowing his fields would get to go back to what his family has done for a generation.

SB1345 -and SB1347 This bill limits the hiring and rate of pay for city government employees.  Private sector employees have total compensations, including pension and healthcare, that is considerably larger than their public sector counterparts.  The City of Phoenix is experiencing tremendous financial pressures as are most municipalities. Because of political and union pressure they have trimmed their work force last year…..they’ve cut their 15,000 employees by……5.   The City of Tucson threatened a cut of 400 jobs prior to the prop 400 sales tax vote but apparently the cuts weren’t needed when push came to shove, in fact a few people in City government actually got a raise.

HB2226 – Sets performance based pay for teachers based on the results of their students and school.

HB2501 -   If a city or agency implements a rule that is vague, disputable and up to interpretation then the rule is interpreted in favor of the applicant.

HB2409 – Loser pays in Civil litigation – tort reform. If a law suit is brought currently the defendant has all the risk of financial loss. Even if they win the court case the defense has substantial legal fees. This bill would make someone think first before bringing a law suit.

HB2333 – Representative Harper wants to get rid of the 1 year cool off period before an ex legislator can go back and lobby. This one takes some guts to run, I wonder if Harper is about to term out?

HB2503 – Reduces corporate income tax rates from 6.98% to 5%. The Senate has a phase out bill. See below.

HCR2006 - Raises the personal property exemption from $50k to “the average wage of 20 employees”. This is the tax that businesses pay for their office machines, copiers and any heavy equipment they use to conduct business. It’s a tax on the items you already paid a tax on when you first bought the item.

SB1171 - Includes a provision that transfers wastewater services to a City from a County. This is a direct response to the ongoing legal battle between Marana and Pima County over control of their wastewater.

SB1030 – Raises the bar for a medical malpractice claim to the highest level which is currently applied here in Arizona at emergency rooms. This change will be huge to the medical malpractice rates of all doctors in Arizona.

SB1031 - States any tax on residential rentals established before Jan. 1, 2011 can not be raised or implemented without voter approval.  This one will stop the City of Tucson from implementing a rental tax without a vote of the people.

SB1346 – Simplified and Flat Income Tax computation for individuals. No more than two deductions.

SB1333 – This bill deals with annexation and incorporation of new cities.  Here in Southern Arizona we are at a stalemate on annexation and incorporation of new cities. The property owners surrounding the City of Tucson aren’t too crazy about joining their government and at the same time there is a 6 mile radius provision that prohibits new cities forming unless the surrounding municipalities give the OK. What’s happened in Tucson over the last 20 years is a couple attempts (Casas Adobes and Tortillita) but muscle from the City of Tucson has halted any new efforts. Pima County has 36% of it’s population unincorporated while Maricopa has 6%.  The loss in state shared revenue is substantial.  If this goes watch the incorporation and annexation activities in Southern Arizona heat up.

SB1286 - Check out how complicated the Motion Picture incentive bill is. No wonder New Mexico poached our film industry.

SB1121 – Corporate tax rate phase out. Lot’s of heavy hitting Senators are sponsoring this one.  It phases the corporate tax rate to zero by 2013. Let’s see if the Gov has the courage to sign this one.

29th January
written by Nelli Machi

The “Dump Dupnik” fever went through the blogs, news programs and talk radio circuit. The Sheriff sparked a reaction surrounding the comments made by Pima County’s Sheriff in the wake of the January 8th shooting tragedy in Tucson.

The Tea Party (there are two local Tea parties not sure which one or if both are behind this event) decided to host a rally at the Sheriffs office on January 28th.  Someone at the Pima Republican Party decided to jump on the bandwagon to raise money by co-oping the event.  So far $1700 was raised but was it worth it? In checking with party faithfuls the consensus is that this isn’t the role of the county party and it appears the Pima GOP stepped on some toes among the local grass roots.

Who has the Republican Party put up against Sheriff Dupnik every 4 years since 1980?  What’s the Republican Parties plan to find, recruit and support a candidate in 2012? Focus on the basics, get a plan and get it done.

As the Great Ron Burgundy said “Keep it classy San Diego.”

28th January
written by JHiggins

ByJoe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business
Published on Friday, January 28th, 2011
The hardest thing to do if you are a leader in the political or business arena in the Tucson region is to take a stand on an issue that goes against the grain and challenges the status quo. We can name a handful of politicians, on both sides of the spectrum, who’ve had the passion and commitment to fight for their ideas but we need more.

It’s so much easier to sit on the sidelines, complain incessantly and undermine movement. We’ve seen what happens to those who stand up for what is right. Those who get out of line experience the long arm of repercussion from the bureaucracy.  Just ask Shelby Hawkins. Since she got involved in a lawsuit against the City of Tucson, she’s had four inspectors visit her business, 5 Star Termite & Pest Control, checking on zoning, signs and fire safety. Previously, she hadn’t seen a city inspector in 20 years.

Then again, we have to ask ourselves why Tucson studies and develops plans on top of plans that wind up gathering dust? Why do bureaucrats play “whack a mole” on business people who stand up? How is it that the city can spend $230 million on Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment with so little to show for it? How is it that other cities can be so successful, such as Scottsdale promoting itself as a world-class travel destination, and Albuquerque poaching Arizona’s film industry and El Paso making things happen downtown?

In a word, it’s leadership.

If you’re up to the challenge, we’ve got a homework assignment: Ask your peers who they think is the leader of the business community. Who’s the go-to person who can get things done in the private sector? Who can deliver votes from the business community on election day? Who stands up for local business people like Shelby Hawkins when they are retaliated against by bureaucrats? Who can help the owner of Jamaican Kitchen the restaurant who spent 18 months working through the system to get his 750 square-foot restaurant opened — in a former restaurant space?

We doubt that you’ll hear a clear consensus. (But if you do, please let us know. Our e-mail address is at the bottom of this column.)

The business community has had few successes in local government. They come only after the electorate gets really fed up. Such happened two years ago when Steve Kozachik was elected to the Tucson City Council. More often, business candidates allow themselves to be painted as evil special interests. Then maybe someone will throw a bunch of money trying to correct the accusations in the last two weeks of a campaign. That’s too little too late.

You may detest the game and loath the players but if the business community is going to have an impact it has to learn how to play.

According to the Bay Area Center for Voter Research in Berkeley, Calif., the most subsidized public transit system in the United States is in Detroit, but Tucson’s ranks second. Last summer, Detroit took down 3,000 buildings and currently is in the process of reducing the areas that will receive police and city services. The roads in Detroit are deteriorating, the school system is hemorrhaging and in 2007 Detroit had the nation’s highest crime rate. Yet Detroit’s suburbs are continuing to flourish.

Sound familiar? Tucson could go down a similar path without leadership.

But we know Tucson can do better. This is an election year in the city. The mayor and three seats on the city council will be up for election. This is an opportunity for us to get like-mined people elected to join Kozachik on the council.

The business community has to build a solid business voter block. Stop diluting your efforts by being involved in too many groups. Start demanding that those who lead us in our chambers and business associations actually have made a payroll and understand that political decisions directly affect the bottom line.

It’s a challenge and it’s going to take courage. But we’ve got to get moving. The time to start was yesterday.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.

27th January
written by JHiggins

For many in the business community, the real stars of President Barack Obama’s address Tuesday were jobs and the economy.

The Arizona Republic – 1-26-2011
Asked for reaction to the State of the Union address, some said the president struck the right notes when he pledged to spur more investment in technology and to nurture home-grown innovation. Others were wary about vague proposals to simplify business taxes: It’s something that politicians often promise but rarely accomplish, several said. – Jahna Berry

From a business perspective, what did you think of the State of the Union speech?

Barry Broome, president and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council: “The fact that the president is moving to the center on his message is helpful.”

The president’s changes to health care and the financial sector caused uncertainty and “a lot of inactivity in the capital markets and on corporate balance sheets.”

Steven Zylstra, Arizona Technology Council: “The president’s proposals on encouraging innovation to improve competitiveness, improving all education . . . and maintaining our leadership and investments in research and development and technology were all welcome.”

Raoul Encinas, board member, Southwest Job Network: “The president struck the right tones in moving us from the tragedy of Tucson towards working together, and working on job creation. Leaders should role-model the right behaviors, whether in corporate America or Washington.”

Joe Higgins, Tucson small-business owner, Sports Buzz Haircuts: “The uncertainty coming . . . over the past two years has rippled through my business and a number of the small-business owners I talk with day in and day out. I don’t think our politicians are aware of just how hard it is to make it in small business.”

What did you think about the proposal to simplify the corporate-tax code?

Broome: “Simplify the corporate-tax code sounds good, but what does it really mean? I think reducing corporate-tax rates are probably really going to be more helpful than simplification.”

Zylstra: “Short of tax accountants and lawyers, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not think the U.S. tax code isn’t too complicated. Leonardo da Vinci said it best: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ ”

Encinas: “If simplifying means reducing 1000-page bills so the average person can understand them, that’s a positive. Anything that gets U.S. companies to invest their capital with less ambiguity will also help.”

Higgins: “Any ideas or plans to simplify the process of doing business are welcomed in my small business. . . . The more I can keep in my business and invest in technology or expansion, the better off the local economy will be.”

What do you think about the call for investments in clean energy, infrastructure and wireless technology?

Broome: “I think his comments about clean energy being this generation’s Sputnik is right on. There are not a lot of reasons for us to be importing 70 percent of our petroleum from regions in the world that aren’t very pro-democracy and pro-America.”

Zylstra: “These are all areas that are ripe for investment and critical to our future competitiveness. The question is, how do you pay for it in light of the almost $1.5 trillion federal deficit? Here’s where we need to apply the nation’s innovative juices.”

Encinas: “As someone whose career was shaped by technology, I am both nervous and excited about what the future holds. Along with those investments, further progress in education . . . are going to be necessary for long-term gains.”

Higgins: “I’m skeptical because we heard this story before coming out of Washington. The stimulus plan was supposed to build up our infrastructure, hire private firms to improve our roads and bridges. That didn’t seem to happen.”

Generally, what about the speech stood out to you?

Broome: “The good news is that smart leaders self-correct. I think the fact the president is moving to a conciliatory tone is a self-correction. I didn’t hear a lot of class warfare in there this time. I didn’t hear a lot of us versus them.”

Zylstra: “The speech had a very good tone of collaboration and emphasized that we must work together. The time is now. Like all such speeches, it lacked specificity on how to go about accomplishing many of the tasks at hand.”

Encinas: “President Obama mentioning that we have to ‘outinnovate, outeducate, and outbuild the rest of the world’ is a great reminder and a challenge that you have to get out there every day and prove yourself.”

Higgins: “I’m encouraged to hear the president talk about America’s place in the future of the world. I think the times and the challenges are a wake-up call to start focusing our priorities on the ideas that made America great.”

25th January
written by JHiggins

What do you think? HERE is some back ground info.

24th January
written by Arizona Kid

‘Inland port’ a vision for jobs, growth in Arizona

73 comments by Sean Holstege – Jun. 13, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Two maps appear on a screen inside the offices of the Maricopa Association of Governments. To Executive Director Dennis Smith, they show the Valley’s past and its future.

He looks at the first one, which shows a tiny red dot for the location of each Valley foreclosure – a sea of red.

“This isn’t working,” Smith said. “What do we do to shift to a more diversified economy?”

The second map is global in scope, and MAG planners hope it answers Smith’s question.

It shows a massive port in Baja California. Freight lines lead to a huge rail yard west of the Valley. From there, tracks and interstates fan out in all directions. The map is a blueprint for creating jobs and growing industries in the Valley.

It’s an ambitious plan, and some call it unrealistic.

It requires Mexico to first build one of the world’s biggest ports in Punta Colonet, about 130 miles south of Tijuana.

Freight lines would have to be built and improved to connect to a new “inland port”: a rail, truck and warehouse complex envisioned west of the White Tank Mountains. A new Interstate 11 would be built, running from Phoenix to Las Vegas and possibly beyond.

Each component would require billions of dollars and government approvals. Some freight and transportation experts say there’s no market for Mexico’s seaport or an interstate north of Las Vegas.

Still, MAG planners believe that goods from the Pacific Rim can reach the eastern United States faster by rail from Punta Colonet via Arizona than by any other land or sea route. Planners’ maps show cargo from China taking 26 days to reach New York through the Panama Canal, 20 days through West Coast ports, and 19 via Punta Colonet and Arizona.

The inland port would also be a hub to truck goods more quickly throughout the fast-growing Mountain West. If private developers and investors back the concept, an international freight-forwarding complex would bring new jobs to the Valley in light manufacturing and logistics. The region could piggy-back on the development, too, taking advantage of new highways or using train tracks for commuter rail.

In July, MAG launches a $500,000, 18-month study to find out if the freight port would work. Other findings are expected sooner.

At the end of the month, AECOM, a planning think tank, will finish its “Global Cities” study. Based on a deep examination of demographic and economic data for urban Arizona, findings will pinpoint a strategy to attract industries and jobs to keep the region globally competitive in the upcoming decades.

In the summer, Gov. Jan Brewer’s Canamex Task Force, which coordinates development of a Mexico-U.S.-Canadian trade route, will determine if the inland port will work. Early indications are positive, said task force Executive Director Marisa Walker.

This year, the Mexican government is expected to choose where Punta Colonet’s freight track would enter the United States.

Punta Colonet and rail

Today, a few thousand people live in Punta Colonet, where farmers grow strawberries and chiles and fisherman pluck lobster and crab from the ocean. The Mexican government wants the area to become a deepwater seaport busier than New York’s, and larger in area than in Los Angeles’.

The endeavor would spawn a new city of 200,000 people to support the port’s operation. To reach U.S. markets, Mexico would need to build hundreds of miles of new rail line through Baja’s rugged mountains and deserts. The port envisioned would handle as much as 6 million containers a year by 2030. That’s a little less than half of today’s volumes in Los Angeles ports but more than current New York area volumes.

Mexico first imagined the new port in the 1990s but got serious about five years ago.

Three-year-old estimates put the port’s construction cost at between $4 billion and $5 billion. In 2008, investors lined up, but they shied away when credit dried up. The Mexican government expects to try again with private bids this year.

At the earliest, the first phase of the on-again, off-again Punta Colonet project wouldn’t open until 2016, transportation officials say.

U.S. port consultants have already told Arizona that crossing the international border near Yuma would work best to tie into U.S. freight rail lines.

But there are questions about whether there’s sufficient demand.

The Punta Colonet idea took root before the global recession tore deep bites out of trans- Pacific trade. At the time, the combined ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach were congested. Ships waited days to unload, while area freeways and tracks strained to keep up with global trade. A labor dispute with longshoremen disrupted ports all along the West Coast.

MAG says there is a demand for Arizona’s inland port because the Los Angeles ports need to triple in size to handle projected cargo volumes for China.

Punta Colonet was conceived as a reliable alternative to Los Angeles. Its success is contingent on crowded California ports, shipping analysts say. But today, officials at the combined ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach say they have sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future.

The recession set back cargo volumes by eight to 10 years, allowing breathing room for millions of dollars in capacity investments.

“We haven’t painted a scenario over the next two decades where we can’t keep up with growth in trade,” Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

The Hillwood Development Co., a Texas firm that developed a major inland port there, depends heavily on Los Angeles ports. The company’s research indicated the ports will have capacity for the foreseeable future, said spokesman David Pelletier, adding “it is still the most efficient way to move goods in and out of the United States.”

John Martin, president of Martin Associates, a global shipping consultant, concludes Punta Colonet makes no business sense.

“I’ve looked at this idea for many years. It’s just not going to happen,” Martin said. “I’ve not heard any interest from investors or terminal operators.”

Instead, trade is shifting. Southeast Asia and India are eyeing Egypt’s Suez Canal to get products to the eastern United States.

MAG planner Bob Hazlett says Punta Colonet is still needed because it will unload a new generation of ever-larger ships that older ports can’t handle.

And even if the port is never built, Arizona’s rail port could still work, he says, because it could better move produce and other goods from Sonora, and its routes are less affected by bad weather.

The inland port

Today, nearly two-thirds of all the freight on Arizona’s roads and rails passes through the state rather than being loaded or unloaded here. One third of the entire nation’s goods come across the state.

For the new transportation hub to be more than a spot to pass through, the inland port must give shippers a reason to unload freight in the Valley. Once off the freight cars, goods from elsewhere turn into jobs and economic activity here.

That could mean plants where goods are assembled from prefabricated components, warehouses where shipments are repackaged to get to other markets more efficiently and maybe new manufacturing opportunities.

At Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies, director Rick Van Schoik says the idea would work here.

“The idea is if avocados and strawberries come from Mexico, why not make guacamole and strawberry jam in Arizona?” Van Schoik explained.

Other incoming products could be electronics or chemicals. For outgoing goods, Van Schoik envisions precision instruments, light manufacturing, pharmaceutical goods and aerospace parts. Others have also envisioned an Arizona freight hub as the origin of solar-power products.

MAG planners are emboldened that the Valley lies at the intersection of two global trade routes: east-west movement of Pacific Rim goods to the eastern United States and north-south goods among NAFTA countries.

Plus, there is easy access to two major freight interstates, I-10 and I-40, and two transcontinental railroads, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe.

Interstate 11

After packaging or processing goods at an inland port, they have to be shipped out again. This is where a conceptual Interstate 11 becomes key.

The highway would add a needed north-south trade link to the country’s fastest growing region, the Mountain West. Demographers expect by mid-century, the region’s population would grow from 22 million to 40 million. At 80 percent growth, that’s double the projection for the country overall.

The proposed right of way for the road runs right through property slated for the freight hub. It would bypass Phoenix, running from Casa Grande to Wickenburg and crossing I-10 west of the White Tanks. It would then follow an improved U.S. 93 to Las Vegas.

MAG maps now show I-11 running north beyond Las Vegas, up the California-Nevada border and emerging in eastern Washington. The idea is to relieve freight congestion on Interstate 5, the only Mexico-to-Canada route west of Texas.

Nevada Department of Transportation Assistant Director Kent Cooper said taking I-1 1 past Las Vegas makes no sense because existing roads can handle the freight. A northern extension of I-11 “wouldn’t generate the volumes,” Cooper said.

Though I-11 has backing from U.S. senators from Arizona, Nevada and California, neither the federal government nor the Arizona Department of Transportation has yet made any significant financial commitment.

What’s at stake

Even with private capital, Arizona’s inland port, with improved rail and highway links, is probably 20 years away, says former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. If Mexico breaks ground on the new port, “our area will be very well positioned,” said Peters, who is now a private consultant and advising ADOT.

Arizona can’t afford the cost of inaction, boosters say.

“If we are not able to build an I-11, then we lose an opportunity,” Peters said. “We are absolutely in competition.”

Tom Skancke, a national transportation consultant who is helping MAG and Las Vegas find interstate and bullet train money.

“If Arizona wants to diversify its economy and take a lead in being a partner in global trade, it must take a lead in building the infrastructure,” Skancke said. “If not? They will lose it to New Mexico or Texas.”

Much of Arizona’s infrastructure is already affected by global trade. Interstate 10 is clogged by trucks moving freight from Los Angeles. Arizona has no intercity or commuter rail service partly because its freight tracks are also congested.

MAG and ADOT are hoping investments that move goods more efficiently will help Arizona commuters. A defunct freight line from Yuma to Phoenix would be restored and improved to serve the proposed inland port. As a side benefit, capacity would be created to also restore Amtrak service to Phoenix. Meanwhile, I-11 would divert truck traffic around central Phoenix and private investment could yield high-speed rail to Las Vegas.

Van Schoik concluded the Punta Colonet and the Arizona cargo hub could work.

“I can see how Arizona can be at the forefront of a 21st-century economy and the distribution center to export to the world,” Van Schoik said.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/06/13/20100613arizona-growth-inland-port.html#ixzz1BznM4Y1C

24th January
written by Arizona Kid

Phil Gordon meets with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Patricia Espinosa on Friday afternoon.

The officials discussed projects Phoenix and Mexico could collaborate on related to public safety and economic development.

The meeting with Calderon lasted about 45 minutes at Los Pinos, the president’s official residence and office.

Calling from Mexico, Gordon said he and Claderón discussed public safety and economic development. Officials talked about the possibility of partnering the Phoenix Police Department with Mexican law enforcement officials and the U.S. government to jointly go after drug and human smugglers. The collaboration could also stem the tide of illegal weapons smuggled into Mexico from the United States, Gordon said.

“It’s quite an honor for a mayor to meet personally with the president of Mexico,” Gordon said.

The mayor has been in Mexico since Wednesday on a trade mission with city and state officials. Mexico is Arizona’s No. 1 trading partner and the state’s biggest international visitors market.

Gordon said he and Calderón also discussed how to expand trade and tourism for both countries, and the potential for creating joint public works projects along the border to create jobs. Projects could focus on water reclamation or renewable energy, which would open up jobs for engineers, architects, lawyers and various other professions for Americans and Mexicans, Gordon said.

–Lynh Bui, lynh.bui@arizonarepublic.com

20th January
written by Arizona Kid

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

As governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, Jeb Bush championed school choice. His first year in office he created a program that offered vouchers to students in failing schools. The program successfully boosted student achievement until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2006. Two other Bush-supported programs — one that offers tax credits to business that help send low-income kids to private schools and another that gives vouchers to disabled students -– survived the high-court ruling. Bush also expanded the Florida Virtual School, a national model for online public education.

Since leaving office, Bush has promoted his reform agenda in other states. He founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education and serves as co-chair of the Digital Learning Council.

Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Bush at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, D.C., to talk about how information technology can help break the education monopoly.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

This interview is part of National School Choice Week, an initiative to raise awareness of how competition and choice can transform public education.

Approximately 6.30 minutes. Filmed by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg, and edited by Epstein.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube Channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

For more on the potential for online learning to transform K-12 education, read Katherine Mangu-Ward’s “Teachers Unions vs. Online Education” from Reason Magazine’s August-September 2010 issue.

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