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The 2013 Hammer Awards

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; time to hand out some virtual hardware to the winners of the 4th annual Hammer Awards, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer’s look back at the wild and the wacky of the year in politics and anything else that’s on his mind.

State Leader of the Year: Gov. Jan Brewer

This one was a runaway. Not even close. The governor at the outset of the 2013 legislative session took on a set of issues that would make most elected officials wilt: Medicaid restoration and sales tax reform. She spearheaded highly effective campaigns on both issues, stood strong against a motivated opposition, and won the day in each case. Her accomplishments as governor are too numerous to mention, but she outdid herself this year, adding to her profoundly positive record for the state’s business environment for which the state will reap rewards for years to come. She’s building a legacy that will be tough to match.

National Politician of the Year: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Are you a Republican interested in running for statewide or national office? Take a lesson from two-time Hammer Award winner Gov. Chris Christie. The governor worked hard in his first term to burnish his image as pragmatic problem solver, and it paid off in 2013 when he won re-election in a route. Buoyed by a bevy of must-see YouTube videos, Gov. Christie made deep inroads into segments of the electorate that have been leaving the GOP in droves. I have no idea whether a Christie presidential campaign in 2016 will be a winning one, but his opponents underestimate him at their own peril.

Legislators of the Year: Reps. Debbie Lesko and Heather Carter

Some legislators get drafted into a fight, others volunteer. Rep. Debbie Lesko and Rep. Heather Carter volunteered to champion the year’s most contentious policy issues, and for that they each win a Hammer.

Rep. Lesko expertly navigated the thorny issues surrounding the reform of the state’s byzantine sales tax system in the face of an opposition that was perfectly willing to run out the clock on the legislative session and stick with the status quo. Rep. Lesko teamed with the governor’s tax guru, Michael Hunter, and refused to the let the session end without real reform.

Courage is an overused term in politics, but Rep. Carter has it in spades, as demonstrated by standing shoulder to shoulder with Gov. Brewer in her campaign to restore the Proposition 204 AHCCCS population. Rep. Carter didn’t waiver and remained committed in her belief that backing the governor’s plan was the right move. She was right on the policy, and I’m confident she’ll be proven right on the politics.

Rising Star of the Year: Adam Deguire

Rep. Matt Salmon’s Chief of Staff Adam Deguire has quietly become a mover and shaker in western politics. The Brophy grad has hit his stride as Rep. Salmon’s top aide after guiding Salmon’s return to Congress in the 2012 elections. Adam has done stints at the Republican National Committee as a field rep, was a senior level campaign and transition team aide to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in her 2010 run, and led the Hawaii GOP as its executive director. I always think it’s risky for a Hill office staff not to have ties back to the home state. Having Adam lead the staff and earn the frequent flyer miles between Phoenix and D.C. is a great move by Rep. Salmon, who will be well served by Adam’s commitment and loyalty.

Fighting the Good Fight: Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake

I’m in the camp that firmly believes that we’re going to see a true immigration reform package land on the president’s desk in 2014. (For those keeping score, I was also confident that we were going to get a deal in 2013, but who knew that a government shutdown and an amateur hour website were going to crowd out every other issue.) But as we sit here on the cusp of a transformative shot of adrenaline for the American economy, let’s give a Hammer where a Hammer is due. We would not have gotten this far were it not for Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake. Arizona is incredibly fortunate to have these men representing us in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

The Great Communicator: Matt Benson

Gov. Brewer has an outstanding team, including a few members who have won Hammers over the years. This year the governor’s former press secretary, Matt Benson, takes the honors for his outstanding work as the 9th Floor’s flack.

Issues like Medicaid restoration and TPT reform were incredibly complicated and they required their own public relations campaigns, but Matt communicated the governor’s positions on these and a host of other issues and acted as a liaison between the governor and her supporters, all while making it look easy. I should also note that there is no such thing as a day off for a gubernatorial press secretary, and Matt deserves a shout out for taking incoming fire from the fourth estate while he and his wife are still navigating the toddler years. Matt’s new firm, Veridus, is lucky to have this Hammer winner on board.

I Miss You, Man Award: David Cavazos

Phoenix is the best run big city in America. That’s in large part due to the dynamic Mayor Greg Stanton and a city council of professionals. But Phoenix this year bade farewell to its terrific city manager, David Cavazos. David was able to move effectively between different political factions in order to do what was right for the city. Having led efforts that ranged from attracting new investment to downtown Phoenix to spearheading trade missions to Mexico, he leaves big shoes to fill here. I don’t envy the search committee on this one.

A testament to David and Phoenix’s work is the appointment of Ed Zuercher as acting city manager. David left a great team behind as evidenced by Ed, a consummate professional, stepping into the top job.

An Apple a Day Award: Sandra Watson

I continue to be impressed by Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson’s talents. She’s taken the economic development toolbox assembled by the governor and Legislature and built something significant here. Constructing the deal that brought Apple to Mesa was a master stroke.

I can tell you from having traveled to Taiwan with the governor right after the deal was announced that bringing one of the most recognized brands to Arizona was a worldwide story. I did not expect dozens of Taiwanese reporters and businesspeople to pepper our delegation with questions about what makes Arizona so attractive to high-tech manufacturers. Sandra’s work is rippling around the glove, and for that she deserves a Hammer.

The Youngest Elder Statesman Award: Jaime Molera

The business community in 2013 rallied around Gov. Brewer’s health care restoration plan, but the campaign didn’t start to gel until Jaime Molera took on the role of a sort of campaign chairman. Jaime had the credibility and talent to bring together a host of lobbyists from across the health care and business community and assemble a dynamite team of political operatives to get the deal done. I hesitate to call a young man like Jaime an elder statesman, but the results leave little doubt that he was the right man for the job. Arizona owes a debt of gratitude to Jaime for stepping into the breach.

I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the work of Anne DeGraw, Jaime’s colleague at the firm of Molera-Alvarez, and Brittney Kauffman at the Arizona Chamber, both of whom ran the statewide campaign’s day-to-day affairs. Though he didn’t need it, they made Jaime look good.

The Mariano Rivera Best Closer Award: Jim Norton

On the last night of a legislative session, you can practically hear “Enter Sandman” echoing throughout the Capitol. This is the time that Chamber lobbyist and R&R Partners big shot Jim Norton shines.  When it comes to closing a deal, he’s the Mariano Rivera of lobbyists. He’s the best in the business, and I am incredibly fortunate not only to have him as the Chamber’s advocate at the Capitol, but to call him a friend.

He’s also a pretty good dancer. Give the man a Hammer.

The Legislative Branch Foreign Service Award: Speaker Andy Tobin and
his Mexico City trade delegation

Arizona in very recent history has had its share of missteps when it comes to our relationship with Mexico, which is why Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin and the seven legislators who traveled to Mexico City with him this year all deserve Hammers for hitting the reset button south of the border.

The speaker was joined by Rep. Tom Forese, Rep. Catherine Miranda, Rep. T.J. Shope, Rep. Karen Fann, Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla and Rep. Lydia Hernandez. The bipartisan delegation was received warmly by everyone we met from Mexico’s executive and legislative branches, with everyone appreciating the genuine effort made by the bipartisan Arizona delegation to make clear that we view the Arizona-Mexico relationship as a special one characterized by friendship and trust.

Also deserving recognition are Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who led their own delegation to Mexico City this year. Both the mayors’ and the speaker’s trips drove home the potential benefits that could be gained by putting down deeper roots and elevating our presence in Mexico’s political and financial capital.

The Next Great Buddy Cop Tandem: Luis Gonzalez and me

I had the pleasure earlier this year of traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico with a delegation led by Mayor Stanton. As a big baseball fan, I was thrilled when I found out Luis Gonzalez was joining our group as a representative of the Diamondbacks.

By the time trip was over, I had been able to give Luis my keen insights on the improper use of closers, the proper execution of a suicide squeeze play, hidden ball tricks and when to pitch out against left-handed batters. I got the feeling there was some real chemistry there, the kind that a Hollywood screenwriter might want to tap into for the next buddy cop hit. I sense box office gold.

Most Versatile Player Award: Steve Macias

One of the reasons I love my job is because I get to work with an absolutely first class board of directors. The boards of the Chamber and the Arizona Manufacturers Council are comprised of some of the most outstanding leaders in their industries across the state.

One of these leaders is Steve Macias, the chairman of the AMC. Steve is the consummate champion for manufacturing in Arizona. As the president of Pivot Manufacturing, Steve knows the shop floor firsthand, which makes him such an effective advocate for this critical sector of Arizona’s economy.

Steve does it all for the Chamber. In addition to chairing the AMC, he’s always willing to serve as a master of ceremonies or moderator, and he’s an outstanding writer, providing insight through his occasional Made in Arizona columns. And the guy’s got a biting wit. He deserves a Hammer.

The Milton Friedman Rock Star of the Year Award: Bono

U2 frontman Bono has long been a champion of foreign and charitable aid to Africa as a means to alleviate poverty across the continent.  But in a speech at Georgetown this year, he said, “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

Bono, your Chamber membership form and PAC solicitation are in the mail along with your Hammer.

Book of the Year: Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution
 
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush and Goldwater Institute legal beagle Clint Bolick win the Hammer for their book Immigration Wars.

The book is an excellent piece of work, full of real, actionable solutions on the immigration front that could find themselves into the House’s immigration package.

Citizen Advocates of the Year: Linda Stanfield and Craig Barrett

One of them owns a plumbing franchise; the other is the former CEO of one of the world’s most respected tech companies. But both of them win a Hammer for stepping into the arena of public advocacy.

Linda Stanfield runs Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Arizona. She was the public face for TPT reform this year, testifying in committee hearings, appearing in campaign videos and standing alongside the governor at press conferences and, deservedly, at bill signing ceremonies. We need more Linda the Plumbers shaping policy in Arizona.

Craig Barrett heads Gov. Brewer’s Arizona Ready Education Council. He’s also the former CEO of Intel. If he wanted to, he could spend his days on a beach sipping mai tais, but instead he’s devoting his energy to ensuring that Arizona has an absolutely world-class education system, with high standards and expectations, accountable principals and teachers, engaged parents and students ready to learn.

Supreme Court Decision of the Year: Campaign contribution limits (award accepted by Rep. J.D. Mesnard)

Since it might seem unseemly to bestow state Supreme Court justices with the acclaim and notoriety that comes with a highly valued Hammer award, I’ll recognize state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, the architect of legislation that ushered in the modern era of political free speech in Arizona in a law recently upheld by the state’s highest court.

Also deserving recognition are attorney Mike Liburdi, who successfully argued in favor of the new contribution limits and Andy Gordon who, on behalf of the business community, filed an amicus brief that argued for the removal of aggregate limits on a candidate’s ability to accept PAC donations. Hammers all around!

Chairman of the Board: Rep. Tom Forese

Who needs a Hammer when you’ve got a gavel? Give Rep. Tom Forese a Hammer Award for expertly using his position as state House Commerce Committee chairman to hold informational hearings on topics that matter for Arizona’s economy. I was able to participate in his hearing on the state’s aerospace industry and the mining industry this year, and both were filled with outstanding content. There are true industry leaders in Arizona, and Rep. Forese deserves kudos for urging them share their knowledge with lawmakers.

From all of us at the Arizona Chamber, we wish you all the best this holiday season and in 2014.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

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BASIS Selects Eastmark for Its Next East Valley School

The nationally renowned charter school BASIS has selected Eastmark for its next East Valley campus. Construction on BASIS Mesa at Eastmark commences in March 2013.  The new school is set to open fall 2013.

“BASIS is our first 5-12 educational partner and a perfect fit for this community.  Eastmark’s central location in the East Valley will give hundreds of children more opportunities to earn a world-class education, which is a tremendous value for kids, their families and our region’s future workforce,” said Dea McDonald, Senior Vice President of DMB Associates and General Manager of Eastmark.

“Every DMB community features education and lifelong learning among its Community Life pillars, which are empowered by partnerships that extend far beyond the classroom.  We’re delighted to bring to future residents and neighbors this charter school option in the early phase of Eastmark,” added McDonald.

The new BASIS Mesa at Eastmark will complement the East Valley BASIS programs.  Because of the strong interest by parents and students, the BASIS Board of Directors agreed there was enough demand to develop another school in the East Valley, explained Craig Barrett, retired Chairman/CEO of Intel Corporation and Chairman of the Board for BASIS Schools Inc.

“Our BASIS Chandler School has had a waiting list since we opened.  DMB brought us the opportunity to develop in their new community, in an early phase of the development, where we could be a true partner.  Its location, easy access to transportation and vision for the future made Eastmark the right choice for us.  We’re eager to grow another top performing school for the region,” Barrett said.

The BASIS Mesa at Eastmark will open with grades 5-10, adding grade 11 by 2014 and grade 12 by 2015. BASIS Mesa may also add K through 4thgrades in ensuing years.  The design and size of the new school will be similar to its Chandler and Phoenix campuses. The campus will be located adjacent to the Eastmark Great Park situated on approximately 4.5 acres. DMB is advancing the development and construction of Eastmark Parkway to meet the timelines of the opening of the charter school.

Families can sign up for the BASIS Mesa at Eastmark interest list at www.basislink.org.

The first phase of Eastmark’s residential development is in the Queen Creek School District.  The district does not have plans to build another campus in Eastmark in the immediate future.

Eastmark will host its grand opening on June 1, 2013 with seven builders offering homes in the first phase of residential development.

BASIS is the top performing school in Arizona with BASIS students ranked highest in Stanford 10 national test scores in both math and reading in 2012.
All BASIS schools are “A” rated by the Arizona Department of Education (“AZEd”).

Approximately 5,000 students attend BASIS schools with campuses in Tucson, Oro Valley, Scottsdale, Chandler, Flagstaff, Peoria and Washington, D.C.  BASIS is also opening new schools in Ahwatukee, San Antonio, and a new K-4 program in Tucson.

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Heroes, Goats and ‘Pure Idiocy’

In case you’ve been living in a cave, next Tuesday is Election Day. Here are a few thoughts about some of the folks that have distinguished themselves as true leaders and others who have made us tune them out this election season.

The Heroes
 
The Treasurer

Treasurer Doug Ducey’s leadership on Proposition 204 is astonishing.  Before his involvement the tax measure was cruising to what many – including me – believed to be a double-digit win.  But now, from every poll that I have seen – including in swing districts in southern Arizona – it is behind and headed for defeat.

Treasurer Ducey has raised dollars, rallied the major chambers and small business groups and an impressive list of mayors and has articulated a clear case on the ills of what would be the state’s largest tax increase. Win, lose or draw, Treasurer Ducey should be recognized for his efforts.

The real education reformers

One of the savviest and wisest policy minds in this state, Jaime Molera, deserves praise for his gutsy opposition when Prop. 204 first hit the streets.  Also making the case for real education reform is Dr. Craig Barrett, who has made clear that 204 is rotten policy. The retired chairman and CEO of Intel delivers as effective a speech as any educational leader in the country on what it takes to improve our schools.  We all agree we need to improve our K-12 education system.  A proposal that permanently raises the state’s sales tax to the second-highest in the nation without directing dollars to proven education reforms is obviously not the answer, though.

The President and the Speaker

Steve Pierce and Andy Tobin have been paragons of leadership at the Legislature the past two years, and in the last year have led their chambers as Senate President and House Speaker, respectively.  Not only have the two championed passage of the most comprehensive set of job creation proposals in the nation, they have passed responsible budgets and moved the state past divisive issues.  As a result of their work and the vision of Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona is now ranked as a Top-10 state from Chief Executive Magazine and rated number one by the Kauffmann Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Index.

Both President Pierce and Speaker Tobin have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect viable and valuable incumbents, particularly those now thrust into more competitive districts as a result of the redistricting process.

I find it humorous that some would attack Pierce in particular on fundraising.  He has raised more than anyone in the state, perhaps ever (not counting unions; see below) for legislative races. Compare his Herculean efforts with any challenger or even the state GOP and it is obvious that any criticism is crass political posturing. But if you don’t think the president and speaker have done enough, there’s still time to write a check.

The Goats
 
The Pinal County GOP Brain Trust

Sen. Andy Biggs deserves credit for his role in shaping a strong budget this past year.  With that said, it makes no sense to listen to a few angry and misguided Pinal County GOP poobahs and change horses in legislative leadership when under President Pierce’s direction the Senate has been firing on all cylinders. The thought of replacing Andy Tobin’s steady hand with freshman Steve Smith, no matter his enthusiasm, is absurd.

What is particularly outrageous is that this call has been issued at the end of an election in an area of the state that is so hotly contested. Their time in these last precious hours before the polls close would be better spent working to ensure that candidates like Frank Pratt and TJ Shope have a seat in the House of Representatives come January.

Richard Carmona

Rich Carmona’s ad implying an endorsement from Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain is both deceitful and stupid.  Not to provide proper context from remarks made from our senators over 10 years ago is wrong.  Carmona launched his ad on the 45th anniversary of Sen. McCain being shot down over Hanoi. Instead of taking that day to thank and honor Sen. McCain, Carmona instead chose to use the senator to deceive voters.

The Carmona campaign didn’t do itself any favors when it, in response to Sens. McCain and Kyl’s anger over the ad, dismissed the senators as career politicians. The Arizona Republic nailed it in Tuesday’s editorial when it called the Carmona charge, “pure idiocy.”

Carmona left himself open for a strong counterpunch, and the senators connect in their response ad. The counter ad should be enough to put Congressman Flake over the top and into the U.S. Senate.
 
The name callers

If you want to talk about lazy language, the charges that John McComish is an extremist don’t pass the laugh test.  McComish is a business-minded, independent former chamber executive who supports jobs-friendly legislation and stands strong against the bad ideas.  And hopefully there is a price to pay for the bozos who took a page from the Carmona playbook and suggested that Sen. Jerry Lewis endorsed Russell Pearce.  For anyone awake in Arizona, you’ll recall Sen. Lewis defeated Pearce in a recall race last year. You can Google it.

Final Observations

For those not convinced that paycheck protection is urgently needed to prevent union members’ paychecks from being raided to underwrite political campaigns, one need just to look at what is going on in the Senate races involving Senators McComish and Lewis.

Some feel that appeasement works and that certain unions will play nice if left alone.  Well, after somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 in outside dollars -much of it union money – launched against Sen. McComish, we get a sense of how well appeasement works.

If you’re shopping for an early Christmas or Hanukkah gift for Arizona, I recommend paycheck protection legislation.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Krauss Honored For Science

Krauss, ASU Professor, Honored For Helping Public Understand Science

Lawrence Krauss has spent much of his lifetime trying to solve the riddles nature has put before us. He also spends a lot of his time communicating the complexities of nature and its hidden beauty to a wider public.

Those latter efforts have earned Krauss, a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics at Arizona State University, the 2012 Public Service Award from the National Science Board. The NSB is the 25-member policymaking body for the National Science Foundation and advisory body to the President and Congress on science and engineering issues.

The NSB Public Service Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. Previous winners include Alan Alda, host of Scientific American Frontiers, Ira Flatow, host of National Public Radio’s Science Friday and Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel Corp.

Throughout his career, Krauss, a renowned theoretical physicist, has taken elements of popular culture and used them as starting points to convey scientific ideas and turn on in individuals the desire to know more.

To that end, he has written several best-selling books, lectures extensively, writes for national newspapers and magazines, appears on radio and television and convenes meetings with leading intellectuals talking physics, cosmology, nuclear security, social psychology, creativity, our place in the universe and why we (and the universe) even exist at all. He has been hailed by Scientific American as a rare “public intellectual.”

“Lawrence Krauss’ broad public outreach bridges science and popular culture through various media and intellectual pursuits, and we are proud to name him as the recipient of the 2012 NSB Public Service Award presented to an individual,” said NSB Chairman Ray Bowen.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this remarkable national award from the National Science Board,” Krauss said. “I will count this as one of the highest honors I have received. Science is the greatest intellectual adventure that I can imagine, and it involves some of the most exciting and awe inspiring discoveries and ideas that humans have come up with, which is why I am so excited to be part of the enterprise.”

“I believe we owe it to the public to share these ideas more broadly,” he added. “Most people are actually fascinated by science once they realize that the questions they have always asked themselves really are scientific questions. This is what I have tried to encourage. And in the 21st century we need to encourage greater scientific literacy among the public and among our political leaders if we are to address the numerous global challenges we face.”

Krauss has authored more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe, and Beyond Star Trek, which responds to recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy and takes a look how the laws of physics relate to notions from popular culture. A recent book on physicist Richard Feynman, Quantum Man, was awarded the 2011 Book of the Year by Physics World magazine in the UK.

His most recent bestseller, A Universe from Nothing, offers provocative, revelatory answers to the most basic philosophical questions of existence. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction within a week of its release.

In addition to being a professor at ASU, Krauss is the director of the Origins Project, which explores key questions about our origins, who we are and where we came from, and then holds open forums to encourage public participation.

Krauss has been a frequent commentator and columnist for newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American, and appears routinely on radio and television.

He continues to be a leader in his field as he serves as a co-chair of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on the board of directors of the Federation of American Scientists, and is one of the founders of ScienceDebate2012.

Additionally, he performed solo with the Cleveland Orchestra, narrating Gustav Holst’s The Planets at the Blossom Music Center for the most highly attended concert at that venue. Krauss also received a Grammy nomination for his liner notes for a Telarc CD of music from Star Trek, and served as a judge at the Sundance Film Festival.

Krauss is internationally known for his work in theoretical physics – he is the only physicist to receive major awards from all three U.S. physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Krauss will receive the NSB Public Service Award for an individual medal and certificate at an awards ceremony and dinner on May 3 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Other honorees will include the recipients of the Vannevar Bush Award, the NSB Public Service Award for a group and National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award.