Tag Archives: maricopa county

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Mortgage lenders prepare for impact of Dodd-Frank Act

Stan Feffer is president and chief operating officer of Grand Canyon Title Agency, Inc. – a Phoenix-based firm with 18 offices located throughout Maricopa County. When Feffer is not leading Grand Canyon’s 120 employees, he prefers to navigate the cool waters off the coast of San Diego on his surf board. Patiently waiting for the right set of waves and watching the horizon closely helps him choose the right wave to commit his efforts. Diligence in picking the right waves makes for a good day surfing.

While at work, Feffer is focused on the pending impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on the mortgage lending community and in particular the title industry. Prepared with more than 30 years’ experience in the real estate and title and escrow industry working both for a large, public firm and a local title agency, Feffer has charted a course for Grand Canyon to successfully navigate these uncertain waters and in doing so, established the organization as a leader nationally with its underwriters. By embracing industry reform, Grand Canyon is better prepared to deal with lenders’ compliance needs and to protect consumers’ privacy needs.

In 2010, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and provided authority for the CFPB to supervise financial institutions for compliance with federal consumer financial laws. Providing real estate settlement services to one of these regulated financial institutions (like your bank or mortgage lender) is deemed to be providing financial products or services under the act. As a result, the CFPB can bring enforcement actions directly against a real estate settlement services provider (such as your title insurance agent) for a violation of a consumer financial protection law or against the financial institution making the loan.

With the increased risk, banks are giving a hard look at all of their service providers. Complicating the matter, the CFPB has been faulted for its lack of transparency and guidance leaving many uncertain as to how to comply with the new requirements.

As a result, the Wall Street Journal reports that the CFPB’s actions are stirring concerns about large scale consolidation of closing services providers by the banks and the potential that some title companies – especially smaller firms that serve isolated and rural communities – will be forced out of business.

“When the Bureau (CFPB) operates in a transparent … and open … manner, the results are generally positive … However, when the bureau makes unilateral decisions, rolls out initiatives, rules or processes in a more closed deliberation, the results are far more likely to be problematic,” American Land Title Association (ALTA) President Rob Chapman said in testimony on May 21 before the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services.

To strategically position itself and avoid this existential threat, Grand Canyon Title’s Feffer aggressively moved to establish the agency as a leader in “compliance” with the emerging rules to present an easy choice for lenders to work with. In late 2012, Feffer began steering the organization to adopt a series of industry “best practices” put forth by the ALTA intended to put settlement service providers (title agencies and escrow firms) in compliance with the CFPB regulations.

On July 19, 2013, when ALTA published its version 2.0 of “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices,” setting forth industry guidelines for business procedures and service levels, Feffer engaged WGM Associates LLC, a Scottsdale-based information technology and security consultancy with extensive banking and real estate experience to lead the effort. The ALTA best practices address seven main areas ranging from internal controls regarding trust accounts to protecting customers’ personal information and responding to complaints. Best Practice No. 3 deals specifically with protecting consumers Non-Public Personal Information or NPI. Best Practice No. 3 includes requirements and procedures for physical security of computers, “clean desk” policies, risk management, disaster recovery, information security practices and methods for the encryption of private data.

For instance, loan and closing documents emailed to you containing NPI must be encrypted. Collectively, these practices are a means for settlement service providers to address the need for increased lender oversight and to ensure necessary safeguards to protect consumers. According to Feffer, WGM’s direct industry knowledge and extensive information security experience made the process clear and kept the mission on track.

The implementation of the Best Practices is voluntary, but an important means to ensure reduction of risk in the overall financial system and to protect against identity fraud. Many settlement service providers have adopted a ‘wait-and ’see’ attitude. However, large banks such as Wells Fargo have embraced the ALTA Best Practices Program validating Feffer’s strategy. In their newsletter to Settlement Agents dated March 6, 2014, Wells Fargo says that ALTA’s Best Practices “… are designed to help illustrate to consumers and clients the industry’s professionalism and best practices to help ensure a positive and compliant real estate settlement experience. Wells Fargo supports ALTA’s Best Practices, and considers them to be guidelines for sound business practices that should ideally already be in place for businesses providing title and closing services for our customers.”

Under the ALTA Best Practice Program, settlement service providers perform a detailed review and assessment of their operations – typically using an experienced third-party expert like WGM. The resulting Best Practice Certification Package is then used to certify to consumers, mortgage originators and mortgage servicers that the assessment found the firm to be in compliance with the ALTA Best Practices in all material respects and represent the firm will remain in material compliance for the next two years.

In January of 2014, Grand Canyon successfully completed its first compliance review. Feffer proudly presented the document to his business partners as evidence of their continued leadership in the Phoenix marketplace. Recognizing the effort is a continuing commitment and ongoing journey, Feffer conducts regular training and educational seminars for Grand Canyon employees with WGM’s help. Now Feffer confidently presents copies of the Certification Package to lenders when they meet, assuring them of their continued compliance effort. Feffer’s hope is that mortgage lenders and their peers will recognize Grand Canyon’s efforts and see the company as a logical choice to provide closing services and to help mitigate risk in this changing environment.

elder

Elder Abuse Day Shares Spotlight with Father’s Day

Sunday, June 15th is not only Father’s Day, but Elder Abuse Day too; and Arizona is among the 22 states that do not require a license or certification for in-home caregivers. The lack of regulation in our state means many of our seniors in Arizona are engaging Caregivers who have little to no experience and no formal training in the caregiving profession. What is even more disturbing is the fact that there is no requirement by statute or law that requires Caregivers and or Agencies that employ Caregivers to do background checks, fingerprint clearance card verifications and make sure that that they are in good standing, drug screening, reference verification and caregiver training prior to being hired and going in to someone’s home.

Elder abuse is on the rise nationwide and at the same time we have more and more members of our community finding themselves in the role of a caregiver with no training. Studies show that 1.5 to 1.84 million Americans fall victim to elder abuse annually, and Arizona Adult Protective Services handles approximately 10,000 cases a year in Maricopa County alone. The number is expected to rise, as 1 in 4 people living in Arizona by 2020 will be 60 or older. Cypress HomeCare Solutions a local home care agency that just celebrated 20 years in business is doing everything possible to make our community a safer place. “Aging in place” is what we are focused on because for many of us this will be the only option. Bob Roth, Managing Partner at Cypress HomeCare Solutions says, “It is our duty to make it safe for all aging adults in our community, we owe it to this generation that made our community the vibrant wonderful place that we are all so fortunate to call home. “ Cypress is a results-driven local agency that provides safe, professional care for elders by only employing highly qualified, competent, honest people with a “heart.”

Cypress runs a 50 State background check on every one of their employees, pre-employment drug screen; finger print clearance card must be in good standing, CPR, First Aid, and Caregiver training are all required. If the Caregiver does not have caregiver training, Cypress can provide this for the Caregiver. Being a Family Caregiver comes with a lot of challenges for people. The physical challenges can be limiting but the emotional challenges are even more difficult. Many people find themselves lacking the necessary patience and skills and are simply not prepared to give aid to their loved one, and many experience an increase in stress, which can lead to an abusive situation.

Ironically, 60-90% of elder abuse is inflicted by the senior’s very own family. Dependency, external stress, and social isolation are some of the leading causes of elder abuse. When the need to engage an individual from outside of the family circle, often people look to a home care agency to provide them with the resources to select from in order to be able to care of their loved one. A logical choice but something consumers need to be aware of, there is no regulatory oversight in this trade – no governing body requiring even minimum standards to follow. Cypress HomeCare Solutions and Bob Roth and several other agencies are working feverishly in an attempt to get some kind of regulation in place, there have been 3 attempts in the last 8 years. Clarence Carter, the Department of Economic Service’s Division of Aging and Adult Services Director, explains, “The abuse of vulnerable adults happens in our society more than we’d like to think and often times, because of their circumstances, it’s hard for victims to report what is happening to them.”

Bob Roth sums it up by saying, “When a care recipient opens the door to their home to a Caregiver, they open up their life. Before hiring a home care agency, it is more important than ever to do your research on the company and be sure they are qualified and trustworthy enough to provide care and companionship for the aging adults in your family.”

Rob Dalager - Headshot

Dalager Re-Appointed to County Commission

The law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy announced that Robert D. Dalager has been re-appointed to serve on the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments. Dalager was first appointed to the commission in January 2010.

The Arizona judicial system operates under merit selection, in which judges are chosen through a non-partisan commission of lawyers and non-lawyers which investigates and evaluates applicants. Dalager serves on the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments, which is one of four judicial nominating commissions in the state of Arizona. He was nominated by Governor Janice Brewer and confirmed by the Senate for re-appointment to the commission in April. His term expires in January 2018.

Dalager is a shareholder practicing in the areas of government affairs and lobbying. Prior to joining Gallagher & Kennedy, he spent 13 years working directly with and for State government, ten of which as the Chief of Staff for the Arizona State Senate. In addition to his role with the Maricopa County Commission on Trial Court Appointments, he also serves on the board of directors for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is a member of the City of Phoenix Citizen’s Transit Commission, the Encanto Village Planning Committee and the Phoenix Pedestrian and Bicycle Task Force. He earned his J.D. from Creighton University and his B.S. from Arizona State University.

phoenix

GPEC Earns Economic Development honor

Cited as one of the Best to Invest Top U.S. Groups of 2013, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) has once again made Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking for top U.S. Economic Development Groups.

“This recognition is a reflection of our elected and business leaders working together to promote Greater Phoenix and Arizona as business friendly,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “The Arizona Competitiveness Package of 2011 and subsequent economic development policies have dramatically shifted our market’s competitive position towards advanced manufacturing and other high-tech industries.”

The ranking took into account four objective categories: new jobs, new jobs per 10,000 residents, new investment amount and new investment per 10,000 residents. “This year’s Best to Invest Top Groups in the U.S. all demonstrated an ability to reach new markets while reaping significant reinvestments from their existing industries,” said Ron Starner, general manager and executive vice president of Conway Data Inc. and Site Selection magazine.

The magazine also features a ranking for top North American deals of 2013, highlighting the Apple, Inc. locate to Mesa, Ariz. The collaboration included a partnership between GPEC, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the city of Mesa, DMB Associates, Maricopa County, and Salt River Project.

Several factors contributed to determining the Top Deals of 2013, including: level of capital investment, degree of high-wage jobs, creativity in negotiations and incentives, regional economic impact, competition for the project and speed to market. “Trends among this elite group of projects include a penchant for free trade zones and an awareness that sometimes facility reuse is as good as brand new,” said Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection.

Broome credits the successful consummation of the project to “years of work on infrastructure, permitting, and crafting performance-based incentives.” He also cited the ability to offer a “turnkey real estate option” as a key factor in sealing the deal.

Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties

Phoenix-area Housing Market Officially in Slowdown

Expect those big price increases we’ve seen for Phoenix-area homes to slow down, possibly even stop or reverse a little this year. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University predicts two-plus years of large gains to come to an end in 2014. The latest data for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of December, reveals:

The median single-family-home sale price was still up 25 percent from December 2012.

However, demand was already falling sharply, with home and condo sales activity down 16 percent from the previous December.
Investors are showing less interest in the market, and construction-permit numbers remain small by historic standards.

Phoenix-area home prices have been going up since they hit a low point in September 2011, but the increases have been slowing down in recent months. The median single-family-home sales price was up 25 percent – $164,000 to $205,000 – from December 2012 to December 2013. Realtors will note the average price per square foot went up about 20 percent. The median townhouse/condo price rose 20 percent, to $120,000. However, those annual gains don’t accurately reflect the cooling pattern that started in July.

“We are seeing a big drop in demand compared with the last two years, and there are ominous indications of a softening market when we dig deep into the numbers,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Sales of single-family homes were down 17 percent from December 2012 to this December. Townhome/condo sales were down 11 percent.”

The supply of homes available for sale also fell in a normal seasonal pattern in December. However, the number of active listings was still up 36 percent from Jan. 1, 2013 to Jan. 1, 2014.

Orr says one other bright spot is the luxury market – homes priced over $500,000. That end of the market is doing well, with activity up 21 percent from December 2012 to this December, as jumbo loans are readily available and the stock market is still near historic highs. At the low end of the spectrum, sales activity for homes priced under $150,000 is down an incredible 47 percent.

“Overall, buyers are enjoying less competition in bids for homes, but sellers should be prepared for possible cuts in asking price,” says Orr. “A larger portion of the population is simply choosing to rent, instead of buy. That includes much of the Millennial generation and those who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale. They either prefer the rental lifestyle, don’t feel that secure in their jobs, or don’t have the credit history or down payment needed for a purchase.”

Orr says there’s more competition to get rental homes than homes for sale. He also says this could lead to rent increases over the next two years, especially since more owners are now institutional investors who will have less hesitation in raising rents than traditional mom-and-pop landlords.

Investors continue to lose interest in buying more in the Phoenix area, as better bargains can be found in other areas of the country. The percentage of residential properties purchased by investors was just 19.3 percent in December, down from the peak of 39.7 in July 2012.

Foreclosed homes aren’t plentiful anymore. Orr says Maricopa county was 19 percent below its normal, historic foreclosure-notice level in December. Foreclosure starts – owners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – were down 43 percent from December 2012 to December 2013. Completed foreclosures dropped 53 percent.

New-home sales had an excellent month, increasing their market share to 16 percent this December from 13 percent in December 2012. However, Orr says this was a normal seasonal bump. Construction-permit numbers remain low by historic standards.

Orr adds, “We’re seeing growing evidence the housing slowdown is also being experienced in other parts of the country, including southern California. If current conditions persist in the Phoenix area for several months, downward pressure on pricing will become hard to resist.”

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed and downloaded at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/realtyreports. A podcast with more analysis from Orr is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.

Davis Named Vice President of Pioneer Title Agency

Pioneer Title Agency announced it has appointed real estate veteran Tom Davis as its vice president. In his role, Davis will be responsible for collaborating with the leadership at Pioneer’s more than 50 offices statewide as well as working closely with the family-owned title agency’s area managers on operations, customer service, technology enhancements and marketing. In addition, Davis will work on both expanding current operations in Maricopa County as well as opening new offices in the coming year. He will work from the company’s Phoenix Peak office, which is located 7310 N. 16th Street in Phoenix.

Davis brings more than 30 years of industry experience to the role, notably as the president and chief operating officer of Westland Title and as the president of Grand Canyon Title. During his time at the helm of Westland, Davis was proud to have the business named among the “Best Places to Work in the Valley” three consecutive years. In the past, he has been involved in the community through the Wounded Warrior Project, No One Left Behind, Habitat for Humanity and the American Cancer Society, among other organizations. Within the industry, he has been active with local REALTOR associations as well as the Land Title Association of Arizona.

“Tom’s reputation in our industry as a leader is second to none – he is universally respected,” said Keith Newlon, Pioneer Title Agency president. “His values and goals align with ours – commitment to service, our people and each community across Arizona.”

Davis lives in Peoria with his wife. He enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family, including his new grandchildren.

For more information about Pioneer Title Agency, visit www.ptaaz.com.

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YWCA Honors Valley Women at Tribute to Leadership

The YWCA of Maricopa County has announced its Tribute to Leadership Honorees who will be honored at the 20th Anniversary Tribute to Leadership Gala on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at The Ritz Carlton in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Tribute to Leadership Gala is a special evening set aside to recognize the outstanding individuals who have given selflessly of their time and talent to make our community, and the world, a better place to live and work.

The awards are presented across a variety of categories and recognize those who have made substantial contributions to eliminating discrimination and empowering women in the community.

This year’s honorary chairs are Tim and Deborah Bateman. Cindy McCain will receive the YW’s “Global Justice Leadership Award”.

2014 Tribute to Leadership Honorees:

Mrs. Cindy McCain
The McCain Institute
2014 Global Justice Leadership Award

Alejandra Amarilla Nash
Landfill Harmonic Project
Community Service Nonprofit Leader

MaryLynn Mack
Desert Botanical Garden
Education Leader

Chevy Humphrey
Arizona Science Center
Health & Science Leader

Martha Kuhns
Women’s Overseas Service League
Military or Armed Service Leader

Karen Johnson
Midwestern University
Dorothy Willey Award

Pam Conboy
Wells Fargo
Community Service Corporate Leader

Leon Silver
Polsinelli
Advocacy Leader

Judge Roxanne Song Ong
City of Phoenix- Phoenix Municipal Court
Public Service Award

Dr. Joel Martin
Positively Powerful | Triad West Inc
Racial Justice Leader

dinner

NB|AZ to Host Taste of the Biltmore Oct. 3

National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ) announced its seventh annual Taste of the Biltmore event, which is scheduled for Thursday, October 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the NB|AZ Biltmore Corporate Center. This highly anticipated kick-off to the Fall social season will bring the best of the Biltmore community together to enjoy unlimited food and wine tastes from more than 20 local restaurants.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Act One Foundation (Act One), an organization that provides educational field trips to visual and performing arts centers for Arizona students. Act One provides transportation and resources to underserved public school children so that they can experience art and culture within their communities. In its inaugural year, Act One benefitted more than 20,000 K-12 public schoolchildren in Maricopa County.

“NB|AZ Taste of the Biltmore is the perfect way to bring the community together to enjoy delicious cuisine, while giving back to the community,” said Jathan Segur, senior vice president of sales and marketing for NB|AZ. “Each year the attendance grows allowing us to offer tremendous support to our designated beneficiary, and this year we are thrilled to be able to contribute to the Act One Foundation.”

“We are thrilled National Bank of Arizona has selected Act One as their partner in NB|AZ Taste of the Biltmore,” said Teniqua Broughton, executive director of the Act One Foundation. “Less than 50 percent of Arizona public schools provide integrated arts education in the curriculum due to budget constraints. Act One Foundation was created to address this need, and the collected funds from this event will help us serve these students.”

Participating restaurants include some of the Valley’s most recognized names: Central Bistro, Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, The Capital Grille, Season’s 52, True Food Kitchen, Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, amongst many others.

Tickets are $35 online and at the door. To purchase tickets or to find out more about the event, including a full list of participating restaurants, please visit www.nbaztaste.com.

dinner

NB|AZ to Host Taste of the Biltmore Oct. 3

National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ) announced its seventh annual Taste of the Biltmore event, which is scheduled for Thursday, October 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the NB|AZ Biltmore Corporate Center. This highly anticipated kick-off to the Fall social season will bring the best of the Biltmore community together to enjoy unlimited food and wine tastes from more than 20 local restaurants.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Act One Foundation (Act One), an organization that provides educational field trips to visual and performing arts centers for Arizona students. Act One provides transportation and resources to underserved public school children so that they can experience art and culture within their communities. In its inaugural year, Act One benefitted more than 20,000 K-12 public schoolchildren in Maricopa County.

“NB|AZ Taste of the Biltmore is the perfect way to bring the community together to enjoy delicious cuisine, while giving back to the community,” said Jathan Segur, senior vice president of sales and marketing for NB|AZ. “Each year the attendance grows allowing us to offer tremendous support to our designated beneficiary, and this year we are thrilled to be able to contribute to the Act One Foundation.”

“We are thrilled National Bank of Arizona has selected Act One as their partner in NB|AZ Taste of the Biltmore,” said Teniqua Broughton, executive director of the Act One Foundation. “Less than 50 percent of Arizona public schools provide integrated arts education in the curriculum due to budget constraints. Act One Foundation was created to address this need, and the collected funds from this event will help us serve these students.”

Participating restaurants include some of the Valley’s most recognized names: Central Bistro, Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, The Capital Grille, Season’s 52, True Food Kitchen, Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, amongst many others.

Tickets are $35 online and at the door. To purchase tickets or to find out more about the event, including a full list of participating restaurants, please visit www.nbaztaste.com.

medical.research

UA Seeking People for Breast Cancer-Vegetable Study

University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers are seeking participants in Maricopa County for a study designed to determine if a compound found in broccoli can enhance the health-promoting effects of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen in women at risk of developing breast cancer or those previously treated for early-stage breast cancer.

Since receiving a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2011, UACC researcher Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, and her team have recruited 106 women who are taking Tamoxifen for the DIME study. Enrollment will continue both in Tucson and Phoenix, through the early part of 2014 with a goal of 170 participants.

Tamoxifen is an accepted treatment for breast cancer. Dr. Thomson, a professor of Health Promotion Sciences in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, notes that data from diet studies of people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and broccoli – suggest that intake may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, bladder and possibly prostate.

“We have previously shown that women taking Tamoxifen who eat more vegetables may decrease cancer recurrence risk. This study will test the potential health-promoting effects using one isolated bioactive compound found in cruciferous vegetables, diindolylmethane (DIM), and compare it to a placebo intervention in favorably changing hormone levels and breast characteristics like breast density,” Dr. Thomson says.

Alison Stopeck, MD, a co-investigator in the study and the director of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program at the UA Cancer Center, sees this research as a unique opportunity to determine the potential of non-invasive imaging to be a reliable biomarker for breast cancer risk. Women in the study will complete periodic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures for measuring breast characteristics.

Study participants will be asked to take the supplement or placebo for 18 months and complete periodic clinical evaluation visits. The supplement is a patented, absorption enhancing formulation of diindolylmethane known as BioResponse DIM® (also known under the tradenames Indolplex® or BR-Dim®) supplied by BioResponse, LLC, of  Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the DIME study in Maricopa County, call Dianne Parish, RN, at 602-264-4461 for Central Phoenix or Patti Blair, RN, at 480-461-3772 for Mesa. More information is also available at azcc.arizona.edu/node/3628.

The DIME Study is supported by grant number CA149417 from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

childbirth

Arizona Community Foundation awards $25K to AFHP

The Arizona Community Foundation has awarded the Arizona Family Health Partnership (AFHP) a $25,000 grant to implement a statewide public awareness and education campaign for young women about the importance of taking B vitamin folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Research consistently shows that the highest rate of unintended pregnancies is among women 18 to 24, a population with the lowest awareness of the benefits of folic acid and its role in preventing birth defects.  Folic acid has been proven highly effective preventing birth defects known as neural tube defects (NTDs), which affect the brain and spine.

AFHP will use the funds to activate the Project B Aware campaign, first piloted in 2010 in Phoenix-area high schools by the March of Dimes Arizona Chapter and the Arizona Department of Health Services through a one-time federal grant.

The result of the pilot program was a 50 percent increase in knowledge about folic acid among participating high school students.

“Young women, particularly those who are low-income, are at high risk of unplanned pregnancies and at higher risk of having a baby born with an NTD due to their lack of knowledge about folic acid,” said AFHP CEO Brenda “Bré” Thomas.  “Despite being described as an ‘astounding public health silver bullet’ by a 2008 Gallup poll, only 39 percent of women ages 18 to 45 take folic acid daily.”

Research shows that lack of awareness and lack of advice in recommending foliate supplements before and during pregnancies is the primary reason young women don’t take folic acid.

“This important funding from the Arizona Community Foundation will enable us to use the previously created March of Dimes Folic Acid 400 curriculum to reach a much broader statewide audience with this critical health information,” Thomas said.
AFHP will use the March of Dimes-developed curriculum that has been adapted for teens.
The Project B Aware program includes a folic acid pre-test administered to all students and teachers, a PowerPoint presentation about folic acid with interactive student participation, a post-test, a list of foliate-rich foods and information about the importance of taking folic acid daily, and a survey to assess the presentation.

AFHP will recruit and train folic acid educators, identify and coordinate program presentations at specific high schools and administer the pre-and-post tests.  The program ends in April 2014.  AFHP will partner with Kappa Delta Chi sorority to provide the folic acid education.

AFHP expects to complete presentations to approximately 1,400 students.
For more information about the Arizona Family Health Partnership and Project B Aware, visit www.arizonafamilyhealth.org or call (602) 258-5777 in Maricopa County and (888) 272-5652 outside Maricopa County.

Banner Good Samaritan Hospital

Innovative Banner program helps cut healthcare costs

In its first year of performance, Banner Health Network (BHN) was successful in delivering more coordinated care and a considerable savings over traditional fee-for-service Medicare plans as part of the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO). BHN leaders are now focusing efforts on the true test of this model– whether it can be sustained and improved upon in coming years.

“We are very pleased by our first year results in Medicare’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organization,” said Tricia Nguyen, Chief Medical Officer for Banner Health Network. “Our ability to deliver shared savings, in excess of $13 million, has been the result of more coordinated care by our providers, advanced population health technology and surrounding our most vulnerable and chronically ill beneficiaries with supportive case management.”

In the first year BHN also demonstrated an ability to reduce hospital admissions, hospital length of stay and the need for hospital readmissions by supporting beneficiaries when they are most at risk and in need of care and advocacy. BHN was a top performer in terms of shared savings compared to other Pioneer organizations nationally.

“Through our experience, we believe the value-based Pioneer ACO model has merit, and that it has the potential to diminish the predominance of fee-for-service plans in government and private sectors,” said Chuck Lehn, CEO for Banner Health Network. “It is the best solution at this time for creating sustainability for the Medicare program, and could be the basis for historic change in the U.S. healthcare industry.”

Banner Health Network will proceed with the Pioneer ACO program in Performance Year 2 (calendar year 2013) and has begun recruiting additional physicians for Performance Year 3 (calendar year 2014).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), that operates the Pioneer program, reported that the results from the Pioneers overall were promising. “These results show that Pioneer ACOs have been successful in reducing costs for Medicare, improving the quality of care for their patients, and that incentives to align payment with quality can work.”

In December 2011, Banner Health Network announced that it had been selected as one of only 32 organizations in the country to demonstrate the Pioneer ACO Model.  The central premise of the Pioneer ACO effort is to create value through a highly coordinated, collaborative network of providers who are focused on achieving the highest level of wellness possible for their Medicare patients.

The financial incentive for Pioneer physician providers is to have improved financial benefit through shared savings, not increased volume of services that are reimbursed in a traditional fee-for-service model. Provider revenues are generated through a percentage of Medicare savings. Further, if provider expenses are greater than available Medicare funding, the individual ACO is at risk for that loss.

In addition to participating in the Medicare Pioneer ACO, BHN has developed accountable care relationships with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Aetna, Health Net, United Healthcare and Cigna in the last 18 months.

BHN is comprised of Banner Health employed physicians and Banner affiliated physicians; 13 Banner hospitals (12 in the Phoenix metro area); Banner Health Centers and Clinics; and other Banner services in Arizona. The Network ensures convenient access to Medicare members with more than 2,600 physicians located throughout Maricopa County and into Pinal County.

big belly of a fat man and measuring tape isolated on white

Paradise Valley Hospital to Treat Obesity

Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges we face today.  According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, more than 64 percent of adults in Arizona are overweight, with 24 percent suffering from obesity.  In Maricopa County alone, about 200,000 individuals suffer from Severe Obesity.

Last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced its decision to formally recognize obesity as a medical disease. In doing so, the AMA joins numerous other medical organizations and government agencies which have either officially recognized obesity as a disease or asserted such through their leadership representatives.

In mid-August, Abrazo Health will open its comprehensive bariatric surgery center at Paradise Valley Hospital in collaboration with Dr. Kurt W. Sprunger of the Phoenix Bariatric Center.  Dr. Sprunger and his team are dedicated to the proper treatment of those suffering with obesity who have for too long endured criticism and discrimination and felt frustration and shame after the failure of inappropriate and ineffective treatments.

Dr. Sprunger sees the decision by the AMA as a significant milestone in helping to remove societal misconceptions about obesity and improve access to proper medical care for the millions of Americans struggling with this disease, including the 24 million Americans suffering from Severe Obesity and its serious related conditions, for whom bariatric surgery has proved to be the most effective and lasting treatment.

The services offered by Paradise Valley Hospital and Phoenix Bariatric Center will help Arizonans suffering from obesity to reverse the effects of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, infertility and a host of other medical conditions associated with obesity and reduce their risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

JS5G7128

SLA Offers $200,000 in Grants

The Scottsdale League for the Arts (SLA), the organization that puts on the Scottsdale Culinary Festival each year, announced $200,000 in donations and grants to support local art and arts education programs in 2013-14. Furthermore, the SLA has created a new, more efficient grant application process as part of its yearly call to local non-profits to submit an application for funding, a program which has provided more than $3.7 million in funding since 2002. New for 2013, the SLA has created an online grants application, which will be available in early July at www.leagueforthearts.org. The grant application package must be completed by Thursday, August 8.

“The Scottsdale League for the Arts is pleased to announce the 2013 Scottsdale Culinary Festival was a huge success and we are excited to offer grants ranging in size from $1k to $15k this year,” says Leslie Rycroft, Vice President of the SLA Board of Directors and Grants Committee Chair. To qualify, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, incorporated and providing services or programs in the arts or art education within Maricopa County. The SLA will entertain applications from a variety of organizations, provided the focus of the project for which funding is requested is directly related to the arts and/or arts education.

Also new for 2013, the League is requesting that all grant seekers submit their financial data to the Cultural Data Project, which offers a unique system that enables arts and cultural organizations to enter financial, programmatic and operational data into a standardized online form. According to Rycroft, “Many grant-making organizations are using the CDP as it gives the funders a great tool to see all the organizations’ data in the same format, and also gives the reporting organizations a beneficial management tool.” What’s more, the CDP is free to arts organizations seeking funding.

The timeline for the SLA’s 2013-14 grants process is as follows. Online grant applications will be available in early July, are due on Thursday, August 8th, and are scheduled to be funded in mid-September 2013.

economic development - 8 honored

$2.2 billion Maricopa County budget advances

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has advanced a $2.2 billion budget proposal that would lower spending, reduce taxes and increase employee pay.

Arizona’s most populous county plans to decrease its spending by $82.4 million next year. The proposed budget also includes the first employee pay increase in five years. The county employs about 13,000 people.

County officials say the budget will likely result in a modest property tax decrease for local homeowners.

The largest share of the budget will continue to go toward Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

law

JacksonWhite Names First Female Shareholder

JacksonWhite P.C. announced that attorney Susan Court was made a shareholder of the firm.  Court joins 12 other attorneys at JacksonWhite who share the distinction of shareholder.

Court joined JacksonWhite in 2005 and focuses her practice on elder law, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, and estate planning. Court assists clients with end-of-life issues including incapacity, mental illness and the transfer of assets before or after death. She is a member of the Arizona Fiduciaries Association as well as the State Bar of Arizona. Court is a former Maricopa County prosecutor and taught Business Law at Mesa Community College and Chandler Gilbert Community College. She is also active on the MCC Development Board, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1983, JacksonWhite P.C. offers a full-range of services to assist individuals, families and businesses with their legal needs. Since its inception, the Mesa firm has grown steadily to include 22 highly experienced attorneys and over 40 paralegals, legal assistants and staff. At this size, the firm is large enough to offer the efficiency and technical expertise of larger firms, yet small enough to provide clients with individualized, personalized attention. JacksonWhite has three offices around the state of Arizona including a Mesa, Casa Grande and Peoria location. For more information on a specific attorney or area of practice, visit www.jacksonwhitelaw.com or www.arizonaseniorlaw.com.

NBA Check Presentation Photo

National Bank of Arizona Partners with YWCA

YWCA Maricopa County announced its new partnership with National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ), to expand the YW’s Own It Financial Education Program, providing financial literacy to primarily low-income women and families at no-charge.

The YW is proud to be the foremost agency in Maricopa County providing financial education to people from all walks of life, many of whom are among the working poor, struggling to pay their bills and feed their families, even while working 40 hours or more a week. For 101 years in Arizona, the YW has provided women’s education, mentoring, and leadership to fulfill a common vision; equal opportunity for all people.  The YW believes a woman that is financially educated provides a better quality of life for herself and her family.

NB|AZ has always been a great supporter of the YW and its programs. Several of their employees volunteer to teach Own It classes, they sponsor major events like the YW’s Tribute to Leadership gala, and one of their employees, Mary Holman, has served on the YW Board for several years. This year, the NB|AZ Women’s Financial Group, a forum of professional women who join together to collaborate, network, and succeed in finance, business and life, will be joining forces with the YW to support its Athena PowerLink program. Athena PowerLink is a mentoring service that matches established professionals with upcoming women and minority business owners, in the hopes of helping them succeed.  By forming a partnership with YWCA Maricopa County, NB|AZ sends a shared message to our Arizona community; we care and are committed to its most vulnerable residents. With the support of NB|AZ, the YW will be able to expand its financial education program to reach more underserved individuals, and provide them with the tools they need to become financially stable.

“We could not be more pleased to award a $25,000 grant to the YWCA of Maricopa County in support of its ‘Own It’ Financial Education Program. Financial literacy for women is a mission that is shared and deeply valued by NB|AZ,” said Deborah Bateman, Executive Vice President, Director of Wealth Strategies at National Bank of Arizona. “The grant will enable the program’s expansion into smaller communities throughout Arizona, changing the lives of countless women through financial empowerment, education and awareness.”

If you are interested in learning more about Own It, you can visit www.ywcaaz.org, call the YW office at 602-258-0990, or email Financial Education Coordinator Bev Strom, at bev.strom@ywcaaz.org.

 

Runoff Election, Early Voting Phoenix Mayor, Council

Andrew Thomas will run for governor

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas says he’s planning to run for Arizona governor in 2014.

Thomas served as county attorney from 2005 until he resigned in 2010 to unsuccessfully run for Arizona attorney general.

A three-member disciplinary panel of the Arizona courts disbarred Thomas about a year ago for failed corruption investigations that he and county Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched against officials with whom they were having political and legal disputes.

Thomas is a Republican and he joins a growing list of candidates for governor.

Democrat and former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman Fred DuVal, Republican and ex-Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Americans Elect party candidate John Mealer have already formally filed to run.

Republicans Sen. Al Melvin and Secretary of State Ken Bennett have formed exploratory committees.

Test

Tiffany & Bosco Adds Zoning and Land Use Group

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that zoning attorney William E. Lally, and AICP certified land use planners Kurt A. Jones and Benjamin J. Patton have joined the firm.  Tiffany & Bosco’s Land Use and Zoning practice is dedicated to working closely with builders, developers, brokers, banks and design consultants; focused in the areas of land use, zoning and permitting throughout Maricopa County and the State of Arizona.  They are experienced in all aspects of land use entitlements which includes general and comprehensive plan amendments, rezoning, conditional use permits, site planning, subdivision planning, civil improvement plans, landscaping design, transportation, , drainage, utilities and any municipal, county or state permitting.

Michael E. Tiffany, Managing Partner and Shareholder of Tiffany & Bosco stated, “With the addition of the Zoning Practice to our distinguished core of real estate, banking and commercial legal professionals, the firm is well positioned to serve the growing needs of the real estate clients. The trio brings over 50 years of zoning experience to the firm, and we are most pleased they have decided to join our firm as we grow and expand our real estate services.”

Test

Tiffany & Bosco Adds Zoning and Land Use Group

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that zoning attorney William E. Lally, and AICP certified land use planners Kurt A. Jones and Benjamin J. Patton have joined the firm.  Tiffany & Bosco’s Land Use and Zoning practice is dedicated to working closely with builders, developers, brokers, banks and design consultants; focused in the areas of land use, zoning and permitting throughout Maricopa County and the State of Arizona.  They are experienced in all aspects of land use entitlements which includes general and comprehensive plan amendments, rezoning, conditional use permits, site planning, subdivision planning, civil improvement plans, landscaping design, transportation, , drainage, utilities and any municipal, county or state permitting.

Michael E. Tiffany, Managing Partner and Shareholder of Tiffany & Bosco stated, “With the addition of the Zoning Practice to our distinguished core of real estate, banking and commercial legal professionals, the firm is well positioned to serve the growing needs of the real estate clients. The trio brings over 50 years of zoning experience to the firm, and we are most pleased they have decided to join our firm as we grow and expand our real estate services.”

heat relief network - hot sun

Summer Heat Relief Campaign Kicks off May 1

Scorching temperatures are a health hazard to the Valley’s homeless and elderly shut-ins, and one non-profit organization is mobilizing to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses among this vulnerable, growing population.

Phoenix Rescue Mission is partnering with several municipalities and businesses to launch its new “Code Red: Summer Heat Relief Campaign” on Wed., May 1. While the Mission has conducted annual summer water drives for several years, “Code Red” elevates the urgency of the call to action with a public plea for water, white socks, toiletries, cool snack packs, hats, light-colored T-shirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, chapstick, chilly neck coolers and more. Volunteers are needed to help with distribution efforts and other tasks. Monetary donations are also requested, particularly in May when the Mission qualifies for a matching grant made possible by several friends of the Phoenix Rescue Mission that ends May 31.

“The majority of homeless people on the streets are battling addiction challenges, which means many of them are already severely dehydrated because of their substance abuse. Combine that with extreme heat and it can be fatal,” said Jay Cory, Phoenix Rescue Mission president and CEO.

Arizona ranks as the 4th worst state in the nation for homelessness. A startling 13,248 men, women and children are homeless in Maricopa County, according to the most recent Maricopa Association of Governments street count and point-in-time shelter data. In addition, Phoenix was recently identified in a national HUD survey as one of the few places in the U.S. where the homeless street population has actually grown by 11 percent in 2012 as compared to 2011.

Public drop-off sites for water, socks, sunscreen, hats, toiletries and other heat relief items are located throughout the Valley. For a complete list of items needed and drop-off locations, visit www.phoenixrescuemission.org.

Phoenix Rescue Mission provides Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger and homelessness. The non-profit Mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to save lives, including Hope Coach Street Outreach, Homeless Emergency Services, Men’s Addiction Recovery Program and the new Changing Lives Center for Women and Children. For more information, call (602) 346-3342 or visit www.phoenixrescuemission.org.

Traffic Congestion, Ways to Reduce in Phoenix, AZ

Public Identifies Transit Priorities for Southwest Valley

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), in partnership with West Valley cities and through extensive input from residents, has completed a transit system study that identifies a local transit plan for the Southwest Valley.

MAG has worked in partnership over the past year with the cities of Phoenix, Avondale, Goodyear, Tolleson, Litchfield Park, the town of Buckeye, Maricopa County, and Valley Metro in developing the plan, which is based on the transportation needs and priorities identified by more than 2,000 Southwest Valley residents. Residents prioritized a local transit system that is accessible, affordable, convenient, and connects to regional transit services.

The short-, mid- and long-term strategies in the plan for local transit services will guide communities in implementing new services as additional revenues become available.

A drop-in open house will be held this week to enable residents to see the plan maps and talk to the project team:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Centerra Mirage Elementary School
15151 W. Centerra Dr. South
Goodyear, AZ

The executive summary of the plan will be posted to the project website March 13th at http://www.azmag.gov/Projects/Project.asp?CMSID=4173. The full plan will be posted shortly thereafter. For more information, please contact Jorge Luna, MAG transit planner, atjluna@azmag.gov or by calling (602) 254-6300.

Desert Schools - community service and leadership award

YWCA Hosts 2013 Tribute To Leadership Gala

YWCA Maricopa County will Host its 20th annual Tribute To Leadership Gala on February 23, 2013, at the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix at 6:00pm. Guests will be provided an elegant setting to dine and dance to the wonderful Upper East Side Big Band.

Tribute To Leadership, our largest event of the year, will honor those who have made substantial contributions to eliminating discrimination, empowering women, and serving as champions to our community. The gala provides funding to support YWCA programs throughout the year; including financial education, advocacy and awareness programs, and essential services for seniors. Please join us on February 23rd to celebrate these amazing honorees. For more information, visit www.ywcaaz.org or call 602-258-0990.

2013 Tribute to Leadership Honorees:

Jaye Perricone, PetSmart, Advocacy Leader

Pamela Overton Risoleo, Greenberg Traurig, Community Service Corporate Leader

Andy Kramer, Banner Health Foundation, Community Service Nonprofit Leader

Michael Barnard, Phoenix Theatre, Creative Arts Leader

Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation, Education Leader

Dean Victor Coonrod, MD-MPH, Maricopa Medical Center, Health & Science Leader

Patricia Little-Upah, retired, US Army Reserve, Military or Armed Service Leader

Angela Hughey, ONE Community Media, Public Service Leader

Karen Churchard, Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, Centennial Leader

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury, Sports Leader

Julie Sullivan, International Foundation for Education & Self-Help, Racial Justice Leader

Top Arizona Legal Cases - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

County opening new justice court

Arizona’s most populous county is opening its 26th justice court precinct, with a ceremony scheduled Thursday to celebrate the swearing-in of Justice of the Peace Anna Huberman.

The court for Maricopa County’s new Country Meadows Justice Precinct will be housed in downtown Phoenix for the next few years.

The precinct covers a territory roughly between Interstate on the south, Dysart Road on the west, Cactus Road on the north and as far east as 59th Avenue on the west.