Tag Archives: Sal DiCiccio

Hamer - June 2011-fornewsletter

The 2012 Hammer Awards

It’s that time of year to hand out some honors for the year’s best. So it is without further ado that I bring you the Third Annual Hammer Awards.
Impact Player of the Year: State Treasurer Doug Ducey
The keeper of the state’s checkbook took down Proposition 204 in a rout, and for that Doug Ducey wins a Hammer. Before he arrived on the scene, the tax measure was poised to coast to victory with no opposition. Ducey rallied opponents to make a clear case to voters why Arizona could do better by its education system than to saddle the state with a permanent tax increase that wouldn’t advance proven reforms. Ducey hit the exacta when Proposition 118, which would help create a more reliable funding stream into the K-12 system, also passed.
Best Public Policy Effort of the Year: (tie) Personnel Reform and Competitiveness Package 2.0
Two major policy efforts in 2012 deserve Hammers.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature, led by Senate President Steve Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin, were firing on all cylinders in 2012 with their passage of a sweeping personnel reform package that injects a new and much needed level of accountability and professionalism into the state’s employment system. Newly appointed Brewer chief of staff Scott Smith deserves kudos for shepherding the package through the Legislature with the help of two of  the state House ’s brightest rising stars, Justin Olson and Justin Pierce.
As if that weren’t enough, though, the governor and Legislature also passed a major economic competitiveness package in 2012 that built on the gains passed in 2011. Who says you can’t have back-to-back once-in-a-generation job creation bills? This year’s wins included the state’s first ever reduction in the tax on investment income (capital gains), and it now makes Arizona more attractive from a tax standpoint to service providers who sell their services beyond the state’s borders, bringing the service sector into alignment with manufacturers. Gov. Brewer’s lead policy adviser and tax guru Michael Hunter, state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, who was honored as the Arizona Chamber’s Representative of the Year, and Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson all deserve a Hammer for a job well done.
Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Salmon
The Hammer goes to former and now Congressman-once-again Matt Salmon for his return to the U.S. House 12 years after he stayed faithful to his term limits pledge that he made when he was a member of the class of 1994. As someone who had the honor of spending a good chunk of his professional life working for Matt, the East Valley will be well served by its incoming congressman who, by having served three terms in the 1990s, brings to his job a perspective (and seniority) few have.
Expect Big Things: Steve Chucri
Maricopa County Supervisor-elect Steve Chucri is one to watch, so he earns the Expect Big Things Hammer. Steve is one of the most affable guys you’ll ever meet. Adding his voice to the Board of Supervisors will ensure that the needs of Maricopa County will always come before any personal political agenda. Drawing on his experience as the chief of the Arizona Restaurant Association, I expect he’ll inject a pro-business point of view into the Board’s work that will help Maricopa County grow more jobs.
Southern Arizona Star: Lea Marquez-Peterson
Lea Marquez-Peterson, the president and CEO of the fast-growing Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wins the Hammer for her groundbreaking work to illuminate business issues for southern Arizona’s Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community. Through her work on votaaz.org, an online guide to candidates and election information, Lea is ensuring that more people than ever understand public policy’s impact on business.
I’ll Be Back: Kirk Adams
Former state House Speaker Kirk Adams may have come up short in his bid for Congress, but he’s simply too talented a leader and respected as a conservative voice to be gone from the scene long. Here’s hoping it’s won’t be too long until Kirk returns to a position of influence.
Emerging Mayor: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
If I were pressed, I might be able rattle off the names of a dozen or so big city mayors around the country. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton gets the Hammer Award for now having clearly joined that small list of mayors whose influence exceeds the borders of his or her city. Mayor Stanton and his colleagues on the Council are doing great things in Phoenix. The Mayor has taken the lead in advancing trade with Mexico, developing a biotech hub, education and pension reform. Because of Stanton and City Manager David Cavazos, when cities around the country are looking for best practices, they’ll look to Phoenix.
Councilmen of the Year:  Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot
Phoenix has dramatically reduced the time it takes to get a project through the permitting process, an initiative headed up by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot.  This effort has received national attention, including from columnist George Will.
Buy this Stock: Danny Seiden
Danny Seiden, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s political adviser, wins the Hammer for being a stock to watch in 2013. He was on the inside of two big wins in the 2012 election cycle: the defeat of Props 204 and 121, the so-called open primary measure, all while working with Montgomery to return the office of county attorney to respectability. And to boot, he’s married to one of Arizona’s most talented women, Southwest Gas executive Ann Seiden. Buy this stock!
The Next Generation: Martinez and Romero
They’re barely old enough to rent a car, but Gretchen Martinez (formerly Conger) and Lorna Romero each wins a Hammer for representing the next generation of Arizona politics. Martinez was the successful No on 204 campaign manager while doing her day job directing advocacy efforts at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Romero last month was named Gov. Brewer’s director of legislative affairs, where she helps shepherd the governor’s priorities through the legislative process.
Serious Work for a Funny Man: Chris Bliss and the Bill of Rights Memorial
Professional juggler and comedian Chris Bliss wins a Hammer for his dogged determination to install monuments to the Bill of Rights in civic spaces across America. Thanks to Bliss’ work and legislation introduced by U.S. Rep.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona last week became the first state to dedicate a monument. The limestone pieces with the words of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution can be found at Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state Capitol.
Former Roommate of the Year: Steve Voeller
This is no slight to anyone else who split the rent check with me during my 20s, but Steve Voeller wins the Hammer for Former Roommate of the Year for his tireless and effective tax policy work at the state Capitol as head of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Steve is now headed off to serve as Sen.-elect Jeff Flake’s chief of staff. A trusted adviser for years to the senator-elect, Steve will be an excellent leader for the Flake office as he shuttles between D.C. and Arizona. The Chamber wishes him the best of luck in his new post.

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

Downtown Phoenix Skyline

Is the City of Phoenix Being Mismanaged?

These are tough times! Given the rotten economy it isn’t hard to be a pessimist about everything, and government seems to top the list. The November elections saw Congress shift to the Republicans, and yet America as a whole still seems to lack confidence that they are going to make things much better. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that only 28 percent of Americans believe we are headed in the right direction and almost half think our nation’s best days are behind us.

This frustration extends to every level of government.

The city of Phoenix recently has been accused of mismanagement by City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. He continues to promote that Phoenix needs to be completely restructured.

I served with DiCiccio for a couple of years on the Phoenix City Council and consider him a friend, but I was caught off-guard by his attacks. Phoenix has a heritage of being recognized for its quality management.  Consider this:

  • In 1993, Phoenix won the prestigious Carl Bertelsmann Prize for being one of the two best-run city governments in the world.
  • In 1995, Financial World magazine ranked Phoenix the best-managed city out of the nation’s 30 largest.
  • In 2000, the Government Performance Project conducted by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, along with Governing magazine, named Phoenix as the Best Run City in the United States and gave it the only “A” grade of the 35 cities it studied.
  • In 2009, the National Civic League named Phoenix an All-American City for the fifth time. It had previously won in 1950, 1958, 1980 and 1989.
  • Each of these awards evaluated different areas, such as financial management, performance management, infrastructure management, human resources, capital management, managing for results, use of information technology, and collaborative projects addressing critical issues.

    Okay, that’s Phoenix’ heritage, but what about now?

    Phoenix has hit the same rocky times as just about everyone else. We could rationalize that in a bad economy in which people are spending less and property values have crashed, it makes sense that municipal revenues, which are based off of these factors, have also dropped. Last budget cycle, Phoenix was faced with a $270 million shortfall. How did they deal with it?  They extended a food tax that almost all other municipalities in the Metro Phoenix area already had, asked their employees to take pay cuts (3.2 percent for employees and 6.9 percent for management), and cut services for the remainder. Those service cuts came after a series of budget hearings held throughout Phoenix in which more than 5,000 citizens provided input. It was a balanced approach that didn’t rely on placing the entire burden in any one area.

    If the city of Phoenix is guilty of anything, maybe it should have planned better for a rainy day. But if you believe that is true, answer these two questions: First, was this economic recession really a “rainy day” or more like a torrential downpour? That leads to the second question: who did plan for this? We hear all about the nightmares from Wall Street to Main Street.  Companies have vanished, banks have failed, and multitudes of homeowners have lost everything. These stories are unfortunately all too common. Almost all governments are having these same problems. Here in Arizona, our state government has been struggling with massive revenue shortfalls. What our Legislature is faced with in the next session makes counties and cities financial problems seem pretty small by comparison.

    None of this points to a sudden reversal of Phoenix’s good management practices. In fact, Phoenix now has a General Fund budget that is $79.2 million lower than it was five years ago, even though it has had an increase of 6 percent in the population.  Phoenix has cut budgets six of the last seven years in order to live within its means. In the last two years, Phoenix has downsized its employee base from more than 16,000 in 2008 to 14,500 today. Phoenix is at a 40-year low in terms of employees per capita. All of this has happened while staying focused on public safety and maintaining many other vital city services. The crime rate in Phoenix is at a 20-year low. Even Phoenix’ bond ratings are amongst the best in the nation. Phoenix received a AAA from Standard & Poor’s and an Aa1 from Moody’s.

    So back to the pessimism that people are feeling. In a bad economy, isn’t it easy to believe that government should be able to rise above it? As we face personal and business crises in a recession, do we really expect that government won’t face the same problems? Many people think that all government is wasteful and inefficient, so isn’t the message that Phoenix is being mismanaged one that is easy to accept?

    The city of Phoenix isn’t perfect, and there is always room for improvement. The truth is it is trying to provide the same level of services to more citizens with fewer employees and less money. It reminds me of a saying I once heard: We’ve been doing so much with so little for so long, that we are now qualified to do everything, with nothing, forever.