Tag Archives: president

Brewer

Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

sales.tax

Arizona Business Community Supports HB2111

The undersigned organizations and businesses want to express their strong support for the passage of HB2111 with the floor amendment that will be offered by Senator Steve Yarbrough. This final amendment represents major concessions to address concerns that have been expressed by the city representatives.

This final amendment reflects the cities’ request for a separate online portal for the collection of sales taxes in the 18 non-program cities. In addition, the amendment reflects the cities’ demand to maintain the authority to audit single-location businesses in their city. Lastly, the amendment removes all of the changes to prime contracting tax except for the trade and service contractors.

While the Yarbrough amendment reflects major concessions to the cities that undermine some of the important reforms recommended by the Transaction Privilege (Sales) Tax Simplification Task Force, we believe this final proposal still reflects historic progress that deserves final passage.

The Senator Yarbrough floor amendment will provide for the following:

* Single Point of Administration – the Department of Revenue (DOR) will become the single point of administration and collection of TPT. However, at the request of the cities, there will be a separate online portal for the 18 non-program cities. Despite this concession, the cities remain opposed because they want to continue to require businesses making paper sales tax remissions to pay the state and city separately. Their proposal provides most small businesses no administrative relief from making multiple payments to multiple jurisdictions each month.

* Single and Uniform Audit – DOR will administer a standardized state audit program where all state and city auditors are trained and certified by DOR. Despite major concessions from the business community to allow cities to continue to audit local businesses, the cities continue to push for further changes that will undermine much needed reforms to standardize state and local audits.

* Trade/Service Contracting Reform – Service contractors working directly for an owner to maintain, repair, and replace existing property would pay tax on materials at retail and not be subject to the Prime Contracting Tax. During Task Force deliberations, the cities repeatedly conceded that this area of the prime contracting tax was problematic and should be changed. However, after almost a year of study and discussion, they have offered a change to the taxation of service contractors that provides no administrative relief and couples that change with a request that the state give the cities $80 million from use tax collections.

Arizona’s chaotic and dysfunctional sales tax system has been the subject of considerable controversy at the Capitol for over 30 years. The creation of the Task Force, as well as the appearance for the first time that the cities recognized the need for reform, gave Arizona businesses great hope that this system would finally be reformed. We strongly encourage state policymakers to pass a sales tax reform bill that is grounded in sound tax policy and focuses on reducing the extraordinary compliance costs on Arizona businesses.

Kevin McCarthy, President, Arizona Tax Research Association
Michelle Lind, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Association of REALTORS
Bas Aja, Executive Vice President, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association
Glenn Hamer, President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce
Steve Macias, Chairman, Arizona Manufacturer’s Council
Francis McAllister, Chairman, Arizona Mining Association
Courtney LeVinus, Arizona Multihousing Association
Michelle Allen Ahlmer, Executive Director, Arizona Retailers Association
Steve Chucri, President/CEO, Arizona Restaurant Association
Rick Murray, Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Small Business Association
Steve Zylstra, President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council
Greg Turner, Vice President, Senior Tax Council, Council On State Taxation (COST)
Lisa Rigler, President, Small Business Alliance AZ
Todd Sanders, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Tom Franz, President, Greater Phoenix Leadership
Connie Wilhelm, President, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
Tim Lawless, Chapter President, NAIOP
Farrell Quinlan, Arizona State Director, NFIB
Ronald E. Shoopman, President, Southern Arizona Leadership Council
Scot Mussi, President, The Arizona Free Enterprise Club
Matt Beckler, Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Tax Officer, Apollo Group, Inc.
Steve Barela, State & Local Tax Manager, Arizona Public Service
Steve Trussell, Executive Director, Arizona Rock Products Association
Michael DiMaria, Director of Legislative Affairs, CenturyLink, Inc.
Gayle Shanks, Owner, Changing Hands Bookstore
Michelle Bolton, Director of Public Affairs, Cox Communications
Nikki Daly, Owner, Flair! Salons
David Karsten, President, Karsten’s Ace Hardware
Reuben Minkus, Minkus Advertising Specialties
PetSmart, Inc.
Tina Danloe, General Manager, Pima Ace Hardware
Molly Greene, Senior Government Relations Representative, Salt River Project
Les Orchekowsky, President & Co-Owner, Sierra Ace Hardware, Inc.
Ann Seiden, Administrator/Corporate Public Affairs, Southwest Gas Corporation
Joseph Hughes, Director of Government Affairs, U.S. Airways
Walgreens Co.

Glenn Hamer is 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.

energy.bill

Direct Energy Opens Phoenix Area Call Center

Direct Energy today officially opened its Phoenix area call center in Tempe symbolizing the company’s dedication to grow long-term in the Phoenix community. As part of the grand opening festivities, Direct Energy announced that the company and its employees would commit to volunteering a minimum of 2,000 hours over the next year among several different area non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the St. Mary’s Food Bank.

“Direct Energy takes community investment and corporate social responsibility very seriously,” said Scott Boose, president, Direct Energy Services. “We are committed to making a difference in our customer’s lives and positive impacts in areas like Phoenix where we are part of the community employing hundreds of people with plans to grow even more.”
The community involvement initiative announcement was made at a press conference at Direct Energy’s new call center. During the press conference, Direct Energy also discussed its optimism that Arizona will open to retail electric competition, an industry where Direct Energy is the largest in North America. Recently, Direct Energy submitted a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to serve retail electric customers in the state. The ultimate goal is to allow more consumers, specifically residential and small businesses, in Arizona to reap the full benefits of a competitive retail market structure, which may include cost savings.

“Across the United States in competitive retail electric markets, Direct Energy has offered choice and innovative time-of-use products to consumers that will save them money,” said Steven Murray, president, Direct Energy Residential. “Arizona should be no different and we look forward to working with the Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioners and other parties to continue the forward progress the state is making toward competition.”

Direct Energy employs more than 200 people in the Phoenix area with current plans to grow to as many as 500. The company’s call center in Tempe serves customers in both Direct Energy Services for their plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and electricians needs, and Direct Energy Residential for our retail electric customers.

“We are so pleased to celebrate this day with Direct Energy and its employees,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “Tempe is excited about adding 500 new jobs to our community, and we are appreciative of the volunteerism of the Direct Energy employees. That is a genuine and generous sign that they are here to stay.”

“Our new call center is a symbol of the important position Tempe and the Phoenix area has toward growing our customer base and business in North America,” said Matt George, Direct Energy’s call center director and senior executive in the Phoenix area. “I look forward to showing the community our new workplace and enhancing our visibility and influence here.”

Jan Brewer

Brewer Declares May ‘Arizona Small Business Month’

Arizona State Governor Janice K. Brewer approved the Arizona Small Business Association’s (ASBA) proclamation to declare May 2013 “Arizona Small Business Month.” The proclamation will be presented at ASBA’s 1st Annual Arizona Small Business Conference on May 16 at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale during the “State of Small Business Breakfast.”

Speaking at the State of Small Business Breakfast will be Governor Brewer, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, National Small Business Association President Todd McCracken and ASBA CEO Rick Murray.

“Declaring May as ‘Arizona Small Business Month’ celebrates our small business community for their great contributions to our State as entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders,” says Murray. “We thank Governor Brewer for honoring Arizona’s small business community in this way, and presenting this proclamation at our upcoming conference.”

Join the State of Small Business Breakfast on Thurs., May 16 at 8-9:00 a.m. at The Phoenician Resort (6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale). The breakfast is part of ASBA’s 1st Annual Arizona Small Business Conference, which will also feature the 20th Annual Enterprise Business Awards Luncheon honoring the National Small Business Association award winners in Arizona, an all day conference with breakout sessions, Networking Mixer, and a Business Expo (free admittance).

To register, visit www.azsmallbizcon.com or call (602) 306-4000.

Jan Brewer

Brewer Declares May 'Arizona Small Business Month'

Arizona State Governor Janice K. Brewer approved the Arizona Small Business Association’s (ASBA) proclamation to declare May 2013 “Arizona Small Business Month.” The proclamation will be presented at ASBA’s 1st Annual Arizona Small Business Conference on May 16 at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale during the “State of Small Business Breakfast.”

Speaking at the State of Small Business Breakfast will be Governor Brewer, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, National Small Business Association President Todd McCracken and ASBA CEO Rick Murray.

“Declaring May as ‘Arizona Small Business Month’ celebrates our small business community for their great contributions to our State as entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders,” says Murray. “We thank Governor Brewer for honoring Arizona’s small business community in this way, and presenting this proclamation at our upcoming conference.”

Join the State of Small Business Breakfast on Thurs., May 16 at 8-9:00 a.m. at The Phoenician Resort (6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale). The breakfast is part of ASBA’s 1st Annual Arizona Small Business Conference, which will also feature the 20th Annual Enterprise Business Awards Luncheon honoring the National Small Business Association award winners in Arizona, an all day conference with breakout sessions, Networking Mixer, and a Business Expo (free admittance).

To register, visit www.azsmallbizcon.com or call (602) 306-4000.

Ann Weaver Hart

U of A President to Speak At AAED Luncheon

University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart will be the speaker at the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED)’s May luncheon on Tuesday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Phoenix Country Club, located at 2901 N. Seventh St. in Phoenix.

Hart will discuss the university’s role in economic development throughout the state.
The cost of the luncheon is $40 for AAED members and guests and $50 for non-members and late registrants.  To register, visit http://aaedmay7th.eventbrite.com. For more information, call AAED at 602-240-AAED (2233) or visit www.aaed.com.  The registration deadline is Monday, April 29.  Vegetarian meals must be requested in advance.

AAED was originally founded in 1974 as the Arizona Association for Industrial Development (AAID).  The organization, which was dedicated to expanding the industrial and economic base of Arizona, changed to its current name in 1991 to better reflect its broader mission.

The strategic vision of AAED is to be the leading advocate of responsible economic development for all of Arizona by leading the facilitation of public/private cooperation and fostering teamwork to address the growth and quality of life issues that face Arizona.  For more information on AAED, visit www.aaed.com or call (602) 240-2233.

Masiulewicz

Masiulewicz takes leadership role in MPI

Donna Masiulewicz, a native of Chicago, was named president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for the 2012 – 2013 year.

Masiulewicz earned her BA from Northern Illinois University in Spanish Translation and International Marketing.  She began her career in the hospitality industry working in association meetings management and tenured in corporate meeting and event operations.  A move to Arizona in 2001 carried over her role in corporate meetings and introduced her to incentive travel programs.

As president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC, Masiulewicz manages programs and events in domestic and international destinations with delegations from 12-2500.
Over the years, Masiulewicz has earned several industry awards, including the Rising Star for MPI (both Chicago and Arizona chapters) and the MPI Special Commendation award in Arizona. Masiulewicz won the prestigious 2008-2009 AZMPI Planner of the Year.
She recently sat down with Arizona Business Magazine to talk about the state of the hospitality industry in Arizona.

Question: What motivated you to become a meeting and event producer?
Masiulewicz; I started working the association market as an internal meeting/registration coordinator for a national nursing council. I truly loved the job and all the facets of the meetings industry. Wanting to learn more, I moved to the corporate side of meetings and conferences, got involved in MPI and continued to grow, learn and focus on perfecting each event.

Q: What are your duties and focus as president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC?
M: I am an independent senior meeting planner who is proficient in operations management for conferences, events and incentive programs. I manage all facets of program logistics including on-line registration support team, housing, custom program itinerary, ancillary meetings/activities, food/beverage selection, implementation, budget management, client relations, on-site execution and production, accounting and financial reconciliation.

Q: How did you become involved in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI?
M: I joined the Chicago chapter of MPI in 1997 and served on several committees; also receiving the Rising Star award in 2001. I transferred my membership to the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter when I moved in 2001. I was going to sit back and take it all in, but quickly jumped onto two committees. Over the next few years, I served on several committees including host and hospitality, membership, holiday party, special events/fundraising, and education forum. I joined the board of directors as director of special events/ fundraising in 2006-2007 and served as vice president of finance for a year before becoming president-elect in 2011-2012.

Q: How have some of the political and social issues — SB1070 and the lesbian couple being asked to leave a downtown Phoenix hotel restaurant — impacted the meeting and events industry in Arizona?
M: While we continue to be sensitive to the special interests of all our clients, we have a responsibility to remain focused on the task at hand which is the organization and execution of the best event we can produce. At times this may entail distancing that task from any group’s social or political views. While some may protest such an approach, the resultant neutrality assures both the organizers and the clients a well-run event without the distractions of any alternate agendas.

Q: What are your goals as president of the chapter?
M: My theme for the year is “Meeting Momentum.” We have the energy and resources laid in the foundation for the hospitality industry and it’s up to us as the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter to keep the movement and mobility in motion by doing four things:
* Offering top notch education to our membership.
* Encouraging members to live MPI and share the message throughout the industry and beyond.
* Paving the path for our future leaders.
* Having fun with networking events and helping others via our community outreach efforts.

87690275

Technology expands meeting and conference industry

We don’t catch up over coffee anymore, we catch up on Facebook.

Technology has changed the way we date, invite people to parties, and even watch TV. It’s only natural that technology will change the face of business meetings and conferences.

“As a chapter and in addition to our website, we utilize social media outlets — Facebook and LinkedIn — to promote our meetings and events and to share information industry-wide,” says Donna Masiulewicz. president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “We also use these means to educate those outside the industry about the power of meetings.”

Mara Weber, global marketing and communications director for Honeywell Process Solutions in Phoenix, has taken the use of technology a step far beyond Facebook.

“We held a global sales and service kickoff meeting on a virtual platform, with live broadcasts of a general session in two time zones,” Weber says. “The objective was to align our global team on growth initiatives, portfolio offerings, key messages and how to sell the value to our customers.”

While Weber says virtual meetings — which experts expect to triple in the next five years — give companies the ability to create a global footprint and bring content to an audience when and where it’s convenient for them, there are logistical challenges that need to be overcome.

“To be honest, the time and energy required and cost is far more than people realize,” she says. “You need to start with a very specific plan of attack, keeping goals and results in mind and making sure you are creating the right content in the right format. Video format, platform format, firewalls, testing in varied browsers and software versions, ability to convert files and stay flexible at all times is just the start. You also need to think past the technical to the end-user experience and also branding to create a visual environment and help messages that guide attendees or they quickly get frustrated and jump off. It’s not like being lost at a trade show and being able to view a map and ask people for directions. The audience is largely on their own and you have to think about their experience every step of the way, how they behave, how you want them to behave, download, ask, engage.”

Weber believe the best use of virtual meetings are as a component of a live, face-to-face event, extending the value of the content through the web to attendees who cannot travel or have abbreviated schedules.

“We chose to do a fully virtual kickoff meeting because we have over 3,500 sales and service team members in more than 100 countries,” she says. “The cost and logistics of face to face meeting is not reasonable.”

Weber says Honeywell has piloted virtual meeting a couple of times with customers when they can focus on a specific, targeted topic. And even in the high-tech world that Honeywell does business in, change isn’t embraced easily.

“Our customer base does not seem to be accepting,” Weber says. “By nature, they are engineers and like live demonstrations, talking face to face with experts and networking.”

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS THE MEETING INDUSTRY

Here are five way ways experts say the use virtual technology is changing the face of the convention, conference, meeting, event, and trades how industries: ways he says you can use virtual technology to enhance your meetings.

WEB CONFERENCING: Connects meeting attendees and speakers in different locations by using VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), which allows real-time streaming of audio and video. More hotels and business centers are also adding high-definition virtual conference rooms that can be used to host hybrid sessions.

ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS: Open source your meetings and events by allowing virtual participants to share documents, Web pages, whiteboards, slide decks, audio, and video … all in real-time. Some Web conferencing systems allow you to record your events, thereby creating a collective knowledge base. These tools can be used for small meetings or for larger groups of thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Often called the “backchannel,” social media represent the virtual conversations taking place in the background before, during, and often long after your live meeting or event. Take the time to set up and promote social media activity through things like assigning a specific Twitter hashtag for your event, creating event-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and setting up Foursquare check-in locations.

REMOTE PRESENTERS: Use a streaming video feed of a speaker who is in a different physical location. This can be done as a realistic 3-D hologram, or a live feed of your guest speaker. Remote presenter options can be a great way to attract high-profile speakers who may not have the time to travel to a physical event.

LIVE WEBCASTS: Broadcast your keynotes, general sessions and breakouts by streaming your live audio and visual presentations via the Internet in real-time.

p

Meetings and conventions drive tourism industry

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, knows his industry is big business.

“If Arizona’s tourism industry were a publicly traded entity,” he says, “it would be the third-largest company in the state—just behind Avnet and Freeport-McMoran, and just ahead of US Airways and PetSmart.”

Despite the economic downturn and the hit that the state’s tourism industry has taken because of human rights concerns, the numbers back up Moore’s statement. According to a study released this year by Dean Runyan Associates:
* Total direct travel spending in Arizona was $18.3 billion in 2011. Travel spending increased by 5.4 percent in current dollars compared with 2010.
* The tourism industry employs 157,700 people in Arizona. Combined with secondary employment that is generated through this direct travel spending, total job generation for Arizona is nearly 300,000. Tourism-related employment increased in 2011 by 1.7 percent – an addition of 2,700 jobs. This is the first increase in employment since 2006.
* The re-spending of travel-related revenues by businesses and employees supported 136,000 additional jobs outside of the travel industry, with earnings of $5.4 billion.
* The biggest economic boost came from conferences, conventions and business travel, which accounted for more than $6 billion in spending, or the equivalent economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl every month.

“Conventions and meetings are essential to Phoenix’s economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “Their attendees stay in our hotels, go shopping at our local businesses and eat in our restaurants, which generates revenue and creates jobs.”

In many ways, experts says, conventions and meetings are a key indicator of the state’s ongoing economic recovery.

“Our industry is in a unique position in that our economic recovery has a direct effect on the recovery of the country as a whole,” says Donna Masiulewicz, president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “For most organizations, the first step in such a rebuilding phase is to regroup, reorganize and set out plans for the future. What better place to accomplish these things than at a company-wide event or convention? That means, in essence, that when we are hired to set up these events we are not only helping our own industry get back on financial track but we are serving as a conduit for other organizations to do so as well.”

The gross domestic product of Arizona’s travel industry was $7.3 billion in 2011, according to the Runyan study, making it the state’s top export-oriented industry, ranking above microelectronics, aerospace, and mining.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from meetings and conventions, which account for about two-thirds of the total revenue at Phoenix hotels and resorts, according to Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That’s higher than the national average,” MacKenzie says, “because our destination holds great appeal as a meeting destination.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out that when a big event like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the Super Bowl comes to Arizona, the public hears about the economic impact it has on the community because those events get a lot of media attention. But people often don’t realize that big conventions similarly bring thousands—and in some cases tens of thousands —of visitors to Phoenix on a regular basis.

“When a large convention comes to the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s like entire small town moving into downtown for a week,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And each one of these temporary ‘residents’ directly puts dollars into the economy and generates tax revenue. By a very conservative industry estimate, each convention attendee who comes here spends more than $1,500.”

Meetings not only play a critical role in Scottsdale’s $3 billion tourism industry, according to Kelli Blubaum, vice president of Convention Sales & Services at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, they are economic catalysts that extend beyond the singular event.

“Meetings and events not only help fill thousands of resort and hotel room nights each year, but also provide an opportunity to introduce new visitors and business decision makers to the area,’ she says. “These events often lead to repeat visitors and even economic development opportunities for the city.”

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane says that meetings and conventions sometimes open the attracting new industry to Arizona.

“Sometimes, people who get a taste for Scottsdale end up buying a home here, or even moving a business here,” Lane says. “In fact, (convention-goers) may represent larger groups and businesses who may ultimately do more business in Scottsdale based on an initial stay here.”

MacKenzie says Arizona’s robust meeting and convention industry brings people into the state who might not otherwise be exposed to the benefits of doing business in Arizona.

“Many conventions and corporate meetings deliver to our doorstep the very manufacturing and knowledge industries economic developers want to attract to the city,” MacKenzie says.

And while meetings and conventions represent about one-third of the tourism revenue in Tucson, city officials have used their success as an attraction in the meetings industry to attract more revenue in the future.

“Many of Tucson’s larger resorts and hotels rely exclusively on group business to maintain occupancy and revenue throughout the year,” says Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are also very successful in converting meetings attendees into leisure visitors.”

Since 2008 and 2009 — the low point for Arizona tourism in the wake of the economic downturn — tourism-related tax revenue has risen across the state and as much as 60 percent in some regions of Arizona.

“The hospitality industry is a primary driver of the Arizona economy,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president of Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting service. “We anticipate that Arizona will continue to experience healthy growth in the coming years as hotel occupancy continues to rise, and business comes back to the state.”

With a bright financial outlook for the meeting and convention industry nationally, experts expect Arizona to ride the momentum.
“At this point, Arizona is positioned to follow the national trend,” Hughes says. “As the economy improves, travel increases. Organizations will soon be willing to reinvest in the positive outcomes that meetings and conventions provide.”

The groups that met at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2011 accounted for more than 240,000 attendees and $350 million in estimated direct spending, according the MacKenzie. That surpassed the previous year’s direct-spend total by nearly $10 million, and it reflects the drawing power of the renovated and expanded convention center and additions to downtown, including CityScape.

“However, that’s a performance that likely will not be repeated soon,” MacKenzie says. “The number of convention attendees we’ve booked for 2012 is down 20 percent compared with 2011.”

MacKenzie attributes the decline to the recession, a 30 percent cut to the CVB’s budget, the removal of half of our Prop 302 marketing funds, and client backlash from Arizona’s role in the immigration debate, and the “A.I.G. effect,” the tendency of corporations to cut down on lavish expenditures and luxuries in areas like travel and meetings to avoid appearing wasteful in times of economic downturn. The A.I.G. effect became a reality because of the negative publicity generated by some practices of the insurance giant A.I.G.

“Keep in mind: This year’s and next year’s conventions were booked from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession and during the first year of the immigration debate,” MacKenzie says. “The typical booking window for citywide conventions is two to five years out—i.e., a group usually selects the site of its 2012 convention by 2010.”

Despite some challenges, experts agree that the long-term appeal of Arizona should allow the state’s convention and meeting industry to fluorish.

“We’re seeing an increase in business from third-party planners, and the corporate segment is strengthening as well,” Blubaum points out. “Plus, healthcare continues to be a strong segment. Canada also is a growing market for Scottsdale, which is why we are increasing our efforts to drive additional meetings business from key Canadian cities.”

Mayor Rogers-web

Avondale mayor named NLC president

The mayor of Avondale has been named as the leader of the National League of Cities.

The NLC made the announcement Saturday that Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers would be the organization’s president for 2013.

Rogers says she is deeply honored to be elected to the one-year position.

The vote on a new president came at the end of the NLC’s annual Congress of Cities and Exposition in Boston.

The Arizona native grew up picking cotton alongside her parents, who were migrant farm workers. She was a social worker and city councilwoman before being elected mayor in 2006.

Officers in the NLC are charged with directing the organization’s advocacy and membership activities for the coming year.

Business Of Running For President

The Business Of Running For President

Much like running a corporation, running for president is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Just like a corporation, a campaign involves employees, money management, public relations, advertising and the selling of a product or service. Which in this case is the person running for office. In this graphic, we take a look at just what all it takes to run for president, and how big of a business doing so has become.

Like all businesses, you have better success in some states than others. Below is a look at how effective each candidate has been state by state in fundraising.

  • Overall Fundraising: Obama has raised $556M and Romney $340M.
  • State-by-State Breakdown:  A few examples…
    • NY: $11.2M Obama vs. $8.9M Romney
    • Ohio: $.8M Romney vs. $.6M Obama
    • CA: $68.3M Obama vs. $33.8M Romney
    • FL: $24.8M Romney vs. $16.9M Obama
  • Average Contribution: Romney has raised $170M from those contributing $2,000 or more vs. Obama who raised nearly half of that from larger donors at $92M.  See the graph for the entire breakdown!
  • Rising Influence of Super PACs: RNC has raised $273M from Super PACs vs. DNC which raised $70M.  This has dramatically impacted the race as they need no involvement from the candidates themselves.
  • Breakdown of how they spend their funds: Obama spent 51% on advertising vs. Romney 45%.  See breakdown by payroll, travel, polling, etc.
  • History of Presidential Campaign Costs: Lincoln spent just $2.8M in 1860; Reagan and Carter spent approx. $300M, see breakdown of major campaigns from history.

Business Of Running For President

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Infographic Credits, courtesy of Best Degree Programs:

Source: Bestdegreeprograms.org

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education.business

Penley Appointed President of Thunderbird

The Board of Trustees announced that Larry E. Penley, Ph.D., has been elected president and chief academic officer of Thunderbird School of Global Management effective Thursday, November 1, 2012. The appointment  follows a search that attracted top-tier candidates from both business and academic organizations.

Dr. Penley’s record of results over a distinguished 35-year career makes him a great leader for Thunderbird. As president of Colorado State University, he reversed declining enrollment and oversaw the doubling of fundraising. As dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, Dr. Penley led the creation of a strategic plan that produced a top 25 ranking among public MBA programs.

Dr. Penley also applied his learnings for diplomacy and management skills as chairman of The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a world leader in accreditation services. INROADS Arizona and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council have honored Dr. Penley for his service.

As a leader, Dr. Penley’s extensive overseas experience gives him great passion for Thunderbird’s global mission. He has lectured on four continents, speaks Spanish, and has held faculty and administrative roles in Mexico and Venezuela. While at ASU, he also oversaw the launch of successful MBA programs in Chinaand Mexico.

“Thunderbird is very fortunate to have Dr. Penley at the helm,” said Ann Iverson, Chair of Thunderbird’s Board of Trustees. “He is a lifelong learner who embraces innovation, fosters collaboration, and welcomes diverse viewpoints.”

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GPEC honors Maracay Homes’ president, House Speaker

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) honored Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin and GPEC Board Director Andy Warren, president of Maracay Homes, at its annual dinner.

Speaker Tobin was awarded GPEC’s Outstanding Regional Contribution award for his successful legislative efforts to help increase Arizona’s economic competitiveness, particularly with this year’s passage and enactment of HB2815, the Qualified Facilities Tax Credit and 2011’s HB2001, the Arizona Competitiveness Package. HB2815 expanded the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program to other export-based manufacturers and lowered long-term capital gains taxes. HB2001 created the Quality Jobs Program, reduced corporate income taxes and increased the state’s Research and Development tax credit, among many other accomplishments.

“Speaker Tobin moved the ball forward enormously with the Qualified Facilities Tax Credit, which single-handedly raised Arizona’s competitiveness ranking from last to fourth,” said GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome. “This $630 million program is the most aggressive investment tax credit in the country – a game-changer for the region’s economic development prospects. I’m very grateful to Speaker Tobin for his leadership both at the legislature and within the economic development community.”

Warren received the Distinguished Service Award for his leadership in spearheading GPEC’s resource development efforts, including a new focus on multi-year commitments. He was successful in securing 50 percent of private investments for the next three-to-five years, helping to ensure a continued sustainability with GPEC’s key strategic initiatives in the international, science, technology and innovation sectors.

“In the span of just a few years, Andy has catapulted from a Valley newcomer to an exemplary community leader,” Broome said. “His work on GPEC’s resource development efforts has been successful largely because of his enthusiasm and commitment to the work we do diversifying the region’s economy and creating sustainable job growth.”

The dinner, GPEC’s premier annual event, celebrated GPEC’s success in the 2012 fiscal year, including a new record of 36 companies expanding or relocating to the region – the most ever in the organization’s 23-year history. This exceeds last year’s record-breaking 31
companies, making fiscal years 2011 and 2012 the best two years in terms of companies assisted since GPEC’s inception. This year’s dinner was sold out with an all-time high attendance of nearly 600.

“GPEC is proud to recognize Speaker Tobin and Andy Warren as two extraordinary leaders in the Greater Phoenix community,” said Jim Lundy, CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona and GPEC’s new board chairman. “Both men have done tremendous jobs to cultivate economic growth and further GPEC’s mission and we are proud to celebrate their achievements.”
For more details about GPEC’s successes in FY12, visit www.gpecannualreport2012.com.

WEB - Mobile Mini - 2012-12

Mobile Mini CEO Bunger stepping down

Mobile Mini says Chairman, President and CEO Steven Bunger will step down from those posts at the end of the year.

Lead independent director Michael Watts will become chairman once Bunger departs. Watts has served as a board member since 2002 and became lead director in 2005.

The company, which sells and rents moving and storage units and mobile offices, said Tuesday that it has created a search committee to help find Bunger’s successor as CEO, with both internal and external candidates being considered.

Bunger has worked at Mobile Mini since 1983 and served in various roles. He became president and CEO in 1997 and became chairman in 2001.

Heidrick & Struggles has been hired to assist with the search process for a new CEO.

Mobile Mini Inc., which is based in Tempe, Ariz., says a new CEO is expected to be in place when Bunger departs or shortly after that.

Bunger said in a statement that he will help the new CEO over several months to ensure a smooth transition.

Shares of Mobile Mini rose 7 cents to $17.40 in afternoon trading. Its shares have traded in a range of $12.60 in late June to $23.08 in late February.

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Insight Names Dodenhoff as President

Insight Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq:NSIT), a leading worldwide technology provider of hardware, software and service solutions, announced today that Steve Dodenhoff has been named president, Insight United States. Dodenhoff will report directly to Ken Lamneck, president and chief executive officer, Insight Enterprises.

In this new role, Dodenhoff will lead all aspects of the U.S. business, including sales, marketing, operations, services and profitability.

“As we continue to strive for growth and operational excellence globally, it is important that we remain focused and aligned with our partners and clients in the U.S.,” said Lamneck. “Steve has demonstrated an exceptional ability to build relationships while maintaining trust and transparency. His collaboration with the senior leadership team has already led to significant contributions to our business strategy. Steve’s background and experience complements our team and aligns to our key growth initiatives.”

Dodenhoff joined Insight in January this year as the senior vice president of human resources and business development. With over 20 years of experience in building and leading growth-oriented technology companies, he has brought a wealth of sales, service delivery and talent development skill to Insight. Before joining Insight, Dodenhoff was president of Enghouse Interactive and held senior leadership roles with Integrated Information Systems and MicroAge.

“It’s an exciting time in our industry and our clients are increasingly looking to Insight to provide the consulting, implementation and managed services that complement our world class IT product and software sales capabilities,” said Dodenhoff. “I look forward to building on the strong foundation in place with our teammates and our partners and ensuring we are well positioned to meet our client’s IT solutions needs going forward. “

The move  is effective immediately. Dodenhoff is based at Insight’s headquarters in Tempe.

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Lori Singleton ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Lori Singleton, Salt River Project (SRP)

Lori Singleton, SRP

Lori Singleton is the manager of sustainability initiatives and technologies at Salt River Project. She is a 29-year employee of SRP and 40-year resident of Arizona. She is responsible for design and implementation of SRP’s environmental outreach programs with special focus on renewable energy.

Lori’s responsibilities at SRP include development and implementation of renewable energy projects to meet SRP’s sustainable resource goals. Singleton oversees research and development projects to support company-wide initiatives for SRP including gasoline lawn mower recycling, tree planting, clean school bus initiative, travel reduction and other internal environmental programs.

She works on development and implementation of the “green” energy pricing program, solar incentive program for residential and commercial customers and renewable energy education programs for implementation in middle school and high school curricula.

In addition, she does promotion and public relations for all new renewable energy projects and purchases (solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas, low head hydro, fuel cells) while serving as the environmental issues media spokesperson for SRP and being a constant representative of SRP on numerous environmental committees, boards and commissions.

She was appointed by Governor Janet Napolitano to serve on the Solar Energy Advisory Council and also has several other current affiliations including: Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors; Audubon Society, chair, Board of Directors; Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, chair; Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President & National Board Director; Southwest Center for Education; and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of Directors.

Current Affiliations

Solar Energy Advisory Council, appointment by Governor Janet Napolitano
Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors
Audubon Society, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, Chair
Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President &
National Board Director
Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of
Directors

Affiliations (Past)

Valley Forward Association, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force
City of Phoenix, Environmental Quality Commission
Valley Metro, Clean Air Advisory Committee
Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee
Valley of the Sun United Way Loaned Executive


Topic: How people & organizations can get involved in the green movement from an energy perspective.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 157

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



 

Rommie Flammer President and CEO China Mist Tea Brands - AZ - Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

China Mist’s Rommie Flammer Talks About Her First Job

Rommie Flammer
Title: President and CEO
Company: China Mist Tea Brands

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
At 12 years old, a friend and I got together a bucket, soap and a sponge, then went door to door asking if we could wash our neighbors’ cars. When they would ask “how much,” we would say “whatever you want to pay us.” I quickly learned my first business lesson, which is have an idea of what your service is worth before heading out. This job was short lived after we knocked on the door of Vern and Claudia Lipp, who bred and showed Himalayan cats. When we asked if we could wash her car she replied, “No, but I have a bunch of litter boxes that need cleaning and cats that need grooming.” …  For the next three years I cleaned and groomed cats, a job that could have definitely earned a spot on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe!”

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first industry job was at China Mist right around the time I turned 16 years old. Over the course of 26 years, I have learned an incredible number of lessons and I still learn something everyday. … The most important lesson is to surround yourself with truly great people because your team is your greatest asset. Average employees don’t last long at China Mist. Next, is to always challenge the norms of your industry. … Indeed, it is the people who continually strive for a better product, better process, etc., who set themselves and their companies apart from the rest. Finally, focus on what you do best.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
When I started at China Mist, I earned minimum wage, which was around $3.35 per hour at the time. I cannot recall my hourly wage at Hotlipps Cattery, but the memories are priceless.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I have had many mentors along the way, but would have to say that Mignon Latimer has been the biggest in my career. Mignon is the wife of a consultant hired by China Mist some years ago. I was an 18-year-old general manager at the time I started working with her. She taught me how to read and interpret financial details important to the company and precisely why they mattered. She gave me a truly sound financial base from which to build.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
While the barrier to entry is quite low, the competition is strong, so be sure you have a strong point of differentiation.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

I really cannot imagine doing anything else, but if I had to pick a new industry it would be something in real estate.

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Merl Waschler

Merl Waschler’s First Job

Merle Waschler
President and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
As a young adult in high school and my early college years, I worked at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in my hometown state of New Jersey. I consider my time at Greystone to be one of those pivotal life-shaping experiences. As an orderly and camp counselor, I worked serving the needs of mentally ill adults and children from all walks of life. Here I learned the power of empathy, patience and the true meaning of human potential. These virtues continue to shape my life and career daily.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it?
Upon graduating from Penn State University, I began my finance and accounting career at Arthur Andersen. Throughout my tenure at the firm, I sharpened my skills in business management and developed a business approach to accounting. I continue to utilize the financial management, operations and strong business ethics I learned early in my career at Arthur Andersen. I am genuinely grateful that my first industry job led me to a strong relationship with United Way. During my career at the firm, I served as a United Way loaned executive. As such, I worked alongside United Way staff helping to increase the understanding human service needs, and encouraged donations to the annual fundraising campaign. This journey has come full circle for me, as loaned executives are tremendous support to Valley of the Sun United Way.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I made minimum wage at Greystone Park (around $3.25 an hour) and earned about $10,300 a year at Arthur Andersen.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My career and professional mentorship hit its pinnacle as Valley of the Sun United Way’s president. I am fortunate to have the counsel of leaders that span diverse industries, leadership levels and areas of expertise. As a leadership group, I look to corporate CEOs, nonprofit leaders, community philanthropists and many others for advice on pressing issues in the areas of education, income and health to guide Valley of the Sun United Way’s work. Equally important is the community’s voice to ensure pressing human care needs continue to be met. This wide-range community perspective is powerful and reflects a desire from all to create opportunities for a better tomorrow.

I continue to be inspired by my professional and community mentors and will work vigorously to improve the quality of life in our community for individuals, families and children.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
The nonprofit sector continues to innovate and transform to meet community needs. I would encourage individuals entering the field to consider that changing community conditions takes time, tenacity, innovation and a degree of risk. I’ve seen an increasing number of nonprofits moving toward the integration of business models and social change theories. All of this represents a great opportunity for individuals, organizations and the communities served by nonprofits.

With this in mind, find an organization that fits your passion and has bold community goals. Surround yourself with innovative thinkers and agents of change. Reach for the opportunity that maximizes results for you and the organization. Remember that long-term change will not be achieved overnight — look for an opportunity with longevity.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I can honestly say that I cannot imagine doing something else. We often seek to find that job we can be so passionate about that it does not seem like “work” or a “job.” I am very lucky to be living that today. It’s so rewarding to work with business, nonprofit, faith-based, government, academia and so many other sectors to strengthen the quality of life in our community each and every day. I’ve met so many inspiring individuals whose lives have been touched by Valley of the Sun United Way and our many partners. I am humbled to be serving our community and will continue to do so proudly.

Wall Street Rescue 2010

Wall Street’s Rescue Package Is Changing Tax Laws For Businesses

The recent financial rescue package signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 3 contains not just $700 billion in federal assistance, but also a number of tax measures that are significant for Arizona businesses.

Renewable energy tax incentives
The renewable energy tax incentives extension was widely anticipated by the industry. Many states, including Arizona, are adopting or expanding their renewable energy standards, and these provisions are designed to make the conversion to renewable energy more tax-efficient.

The 30 percent investment tax credit, particularly the eight-year extension of the Section 48 credit for solar energy, is especially important given Arizona’s potential for solar and alternative energy-related businesses. These incentives are expected to not only continue current investment levels, but also to attract new business investment in Arizona’s alternative energy efforts.

It’s key to note that the energy tax incentives apply to businesses that use them — not to solar energy manufacturers. For example, mixed-use developments adding solar panels to parking garages, construction firms building LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design)-certified structures, and retail centers adding solar roof panels will benefit from the incentive.

Another aspect of the energy credit changes is the elimination of the public utility exception. Two years ago, the Arizona Corporation Commission ruled that regulated electric utilities must generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. However, utilities have been unable to benefit from this incentive. Regulated utilities may now obtain a 30 percent investment tax credit from their investment in qualifying property.

For instance, if APS purchases solar panels and installs them on your property to provide your electricity, APS will be allowed to take the credit. This provision allows public utilities to own and operate solar and other energy tax credit facilities and include them in their rate base for rate-making purposes.

Research and development credit
The bill extends the research and development tax credit through the end of 2009, increases the alternative simplified research credit from 12 percent to 14 percent for the 2009 tax year, and repeals the alternative incremental research credit for the 2009 tax year.

Given the current economic conditions, this retroactive extension potentially creates both cash benefits and earnings-per-share benefits. Businesses will need to consider the financial statement effect of the research credit now available for 2008, as well as the effect of the retroactive extension on their estimated tax payments for the 2008 tax year. Fiscal-year taxpayers who have already filed their 2007 tax year returns should consider filing amended returns to claim research credits for the period for which the credit had expired. In light of increasing IRS scrutiny, consider your approach and your documentation for the research credits you take. This retroactive extension also provides the opportunity to consider a pre-filing agreement with the IRS for the research credit for the 2008 tax year and beyond.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
The AMT is a separately computed tax that eliminates many deductions and credits that are allowed in computing regular tax liability for individuals, estates and trusts. In recent years, Congress has repeatedly enacted a temporary “patch” that significantly raised the applicable AMT exemption amounts. The AMT exemption amounts are phased out for higher-income taxpayers.

The AMT patch for 2008, without which more than 20 million taxpayers would have been hit with AMT liability early next year when filing their 2008 returns, was included in the financial rescue legislation. The legislation also increases the AMT refundable credit amount for individuals with long-term unused credits for prior year minimum tax liability, eliminates the income phase-out, and abates any underpayment of tax (including interest) outstanding on Oct. 3 related to AMT that was generated from the exercise of incentive stock options.

Changing tax law, increased IRS audits and the direct negative ramifications that follow from financial statement restatements mean that achieving certainty in tax positions is more important than ever. Many taxpayers are planning upfront and substantiating all their positions. As companies experience flat or negative results, tax considerations become more important to the bottom line. Tax departments are being asked to find efficient ways to maximize cash and strengthen balance sheets. The new legislation can benefit businesses in this challenging time.

Wayne Hoeing is a partner with Ernst & Young LLP in the firm’s Phoenix office.

McCain, America's Next Leader - AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

America’s Next Leader

The last time an Arizona politician stood at the threshold of the White House was 44 years ago, when Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater introduced a new form of conservative politics to America before falling under the wheels of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s campaign juggernaut.

american-next-leader 2008

Now, another Arizonan, also the Republican nominee, has the White House within his grasp.
Within weeks, Sen. John McCain will either make history or repeat it in one of the most closely watched presidential elections in modern history as he squares off against Sen. Barack Obama, the first African-American presidential nominee of either major party.

“I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me,” McCain says. “Thirty-five

years ago, I came home from an extended leave abroad. While I was away, I fell in love with my country. I have been an imperfect servant of my country ever since, in uniform and in office, in war and peace.”

That he has made it this far is remarkable considering his campaign seemed on the verge of collapsing in the months before the Iowa caucus.

McCain had trouble getting his primary campaign off the ground. Then, after securing the Republican nomination, McCain’s campaign began to drift, says Larry Sabato, a nationally recognized political science professor at the University of Virginia.

“He was the nominee for the Republican Party long before Obama had the Democratic bid, but he didn’t seem to use that time wisely,” Sabato says.

However, Sabato believes McCain’s campaign has since tightened up considerably.

“They are making decisions quickly and rolling the dice as needed,” he says.

Deeply involved in politics since leaving the U.S. Navy in 1981, McCain was first elected into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He was elected into the U.S. Senate in 1986. When he was reelected for his third Senate term in 2004, McCain won by an overwhelming percentage of the vote.

In between, McCain ran for president for the first time in 2000, hoping to ride his Straight Talk Express campaign bus all the way to the White House. An underdog, he surprised supposed frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush by winning the New Hampshire GOP primary. That’s when the campaign turned ugly, and in the South Carolina primary, very personal. Bush, of course, eventually won the Republican nomination and the general election.

Over the past eight years, McCain has clashed with Bush on numerous issues, but he has remained unwaveringly behind Bush on the Iraq War, telling radio talk show host Mike Gallagher earlier this year, “No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.”

McCain went on to add, “… there are many national security issues that I have strongly supported the president (on) and steadfastly so.”

Bush in turn has expressed his support for McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, giving his endorsement earlier this year and saying that McCain has the “character, courage and perseverance” to lead the country, according to an article on CNNPolitics.com.

Even Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor who at one time expressed concern about McCain’s famous temper, believes the senator is maintaining a solid campaign.

“I am proud of the way he is running his campaign and the issues he’s bringing to the forefront,” Johnson says.

Besides taking flak for his temper, McCain has also been taken to task for breaking from the Republican Party on some high-profile votes, and even for his age; at 72, he would be the oldest president in U.S. history, if elected. But countering that is the fact McCain is also a respected war hero.

McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War in the infamous camp dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was forced into solitary confinement, denied medical treatment and beaten by the North Vietnamese. But he maintains he is not bitter — rather he is humble.

“There is no higher honor than sacrificing for a cause greater than my own self-interest,” he says.

He also believes this experience, as well as his leadership in the Senate Armed Services Committee, makes him the most-qualified candidate to be commander in chief.

McCain’s domestic platform for his potential presidency begins with a goal to present greater opportunity and prosperity for workers and their families.

“That agenda will ensure those workers are employed by businesses that invest in innovative technologies, are not strangled by excessive regulation, are not burdened by high taxes, do not face rising health costs that squeeze wages, and sell more products and services in world markets,” he says.

On the foreign policy front, McCain has made no secret of his support of the war in Iraq, but he admits, “I do not want to keep our troops there a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests. And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine, and must give Gen. (David) Petraeus and our troops the necessary time to succeed in Iraq.”

He adds that if elected president, he will ensure “al-Qaeda has no safe haven anywhere in the world, including Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces continue to root out and eliminate the threat of remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

McCain promises that with him at the helm, American families will be secure from threats domestic and foreign. “I will take on our damaging dependence on imported oil and make sure that oil will never again be a weapon against us,” he says. “America’s workers will be secure in the fact that they have portable health insurance and pension benefits, allowing them to move from job-to-job, job-to-home, and job-to-retirement without fear of losing their financial safety net.

“They will be secure in the knowledge that if the economic foundation of their employer or industry shifts, they will be prepared to make the transition to a new job and have access to community college-based training programs that provide the skills to acquire and hold a better job for the 21st century.”

McCain does not deny that there are major economic challenges that must be confronted and he has plans to amend these crises. “Americans are suffering under high gasoline prices, rising food prices, a housing crisis, and tough credit conditions that threaten even the ability of our students to get their college loans,” he says.

As part of McCain’s approach to ease consumers’ current pain, he pushed for a summer gas tax holiday and to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has also proposed his so-called HOME Plan to provide robust, timely and targeted help to those hurt by the housing crisis. In addition, he called for a Justice Department task force to investigate wrongdoing in the mortgage industry.

To ensure that college remains a reality, McCain has proposed a student loan continuity plan that will coordinate policies with the states to keep the credit crunch from hurting students.

McCain also promises to address the challenge of rising health care costs by “transforming the health care system to focus on quality, cost, and being responsive to the needs of American families.” He adds: “Furthermore, I will not leave difficult tasks like securing our border, entitlement reform, or fixing our schools for another generation of leaders to solve.”

McCain has lofty goals for the future and security of America and its people. But he has one major obstacle standing between himself and the White House. In the minds of many Americans, the sheer fact that McCain would be replacing another Republican — and a highly unpopular one at that — is a detriment to his campaign, according to Patrick Kenney, professor and chair of Arizona State University’s political science department.

“The Republicans have been in power since 2001 and ‘peace and prosperity’ is not going well,” Kenney says. “The economy is down, the war is not entirely supported and (McCain) is linked to Bush’s war and economic program.”

For his part, Obama is hoping the link to Bush will work in his favor. He released a television spot in late July titled “The Low Road,” in which, The Huffington Post reports, “the Illinois Democrat (is) playing his trump card: tying McCain to George W. Bush, both in politics and in policy.”

However, Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, believes McCain’s connection to Bush and the war has a positive side. “He was instrumental in helping Bush with the surge strategy after he returned from Iraq and saw first-hand the things that weren’t being done properly to win the war,” Kyl says.
It is this military expertise and experience that Kyl believes will help McCain gain support from veterans.

“I think that all Americans appreciate his service and it will help prepare him to make decisions and winning strategies in the war,” Kyle says. “It helps identify him with leadership, experience, courage and independence.”

cover october 2008

Grant Woods, the former Arizona attorney general from 1991-1999, thinks it is that very independence that makes McCain the ideal man to lead the nation. “He will never be a scripted, always ‘on’ message candidate,” Woods says. “This is frustrating to the professionals, but makes him more attractive to real people because he is a real guy.

“We face great international challenges militarily and economically,” Woods continues. “I believe his lifetime of service gives him the judgment we need to lead the country at this time. He has the experience to make his own decisions.”

As Election Day draws near, Americans will be responsible for making their own decisions, as well. Regardless of the outcome, change is on the horizon — and that is exactly what the American people seem to want for the future.