Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reader responds to latest RAID column...

I wanted to fisk the article, but I have been traveling and actually, once I saw my email... I didn't think I could do a better job than the person who contributed the following.

Congrats Ken on being the first contribution to 'Letters to MOCO'. Here is Ken's response...

To the people of Kingman:

Harley Pettit has a column in today’s Miner. As usual, RAID is crying and whining about how they are looking after the interests of the people of this town, and Harley does not appreciate being “attacked” by “Monica Busch, Ken Wilson, and Michael Dye are the latest critics”.

Well, Harley. I suggest you get used to these “attacks”. The influential people listed about as well as most Kingman citizens are starting to get tired of your negative stances and disrespect / contempt for our elected officials and city employees.

Also, everything that RAID stands for is negative, and people in this town want to see progress and positive solutions to the challenges we face. Generally, RAID offers none…well except for Harley’s new idea… Harley says that we should take 60 to 80 acres of the city’s 168 acres and use it for “flood control”.

WOW! 60-80 acres of “flood control” along I-40??? I don’t think the entire town of Kingman would require so much land for “flood control” 80 acres would hold an enormous volume of water. Harley, are you expecting GOD to break his promise and flood the world again??? Actually, this simply goes to show that Harley and other RAID members simply don’t know what they are talking about.

Here is the best part of Harley’s hair brain scheme….. He said that this using the city’s land for flood control “doesn’t cost us any additional money”. THIS IS WHERE I LOVE TO BEAT UP ON RAID FOR “PLAYING MR. DEVELOPER”! HAVE THESE GUYS EVER DESIGNED OR BUILT A WATER RETENTION BASIN?

Well, I have.… Really. I have! And believe me, it is NOT FREE!!! It takes 1) an engineering study, 2) a hydrological study of the area, 3) enormous amount of earth moving, and 4) retention wall building. ALL OF THIS COSTS MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Here again, RAID puts out misrepresentations and/or lies that hurt the people of Kingman. They throw out ideas that are flat out wrong and incorrect. So, the people of Kingman are told that using prime commercial land worth tens of millions of dollars is best used for “flood control”. NOT!

RAID, you guys really have got to pull it together. Your credibility is quickly slipping away…

-Ken Herskind

PS Let me throw out my idea quickly… 1) Rezone the 168 acres, 2) build the interchange, 3) let commercial develop north of the interchange, and 4) THEN, sell the city’s 168 acres for $50-$100 million. With that money, we can repay bonds, build more parks, hire police/fire, and improve more infrastructure. ALL THIS WITHOUT RAISING A PENNY OF TAXES!!!

PSS Oh…Did I also happen to mention about the millions of dollars of sales tax revenue for the City of Kingman that would come along with the additional commercial?

PSSS Oh, Did I also happen to mention about the effects of this growth on your home values? Maybe if Kingman had the shopping and growth back our home values would pick up again?

Good job Ken, thanks for your contribution. Everyone, keep the contributions coming. I will post them here. Tell others about this site and let them know that there are plenty of people speaking up for them. They are not alone.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Planes, trains, and automobiles

My wife put together a last minute trip for me last Friday. She scored two great tickets for an NFL Football game in Minnesota to see the host Vikings take on MY beloved Eagles from Philly.

I caught a plane on Saturday morning, rode a train to the game, and did the rest via an automobile. This is the second time for me in Minnesota since my wife was promoted to her new job. And for the second time the weather was incredible. I guess global warming is real (and to this point I didn't hear anyone from Minnesota complain).

Plenty of Birds fans on the light rail train we took to the Metrodome. We even joined in on the Eagles Fight song!!

Star QB (sometimes) Donovan McNabb after warm-ups. I'd say he got warmed up pretty good. He threw for more than 300 yards in the game.

And now... YOUR Philadelphia Eagles. I cheered, while others booed. I thought they only booed in Philly?? Guess not.

Taken a moment before Running Back Brian Westbrook scored his second TD of the game. Both Eagles TD's were scored on my side of the field. Lucky me.

The Metrodome is a big place, there were more than 63,000 people in attendance. Someday there will be 63,000 people living in Kingman... if all goes well.

One happy Birds fan!!

Huge thanks to my wife, Gail, for getting the tickets and making this experience happen. She is the greatest. Love ya babe!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

And now... RAID's response to me

You can find it on their site, but I'm not linking to it. Click on the 'President's Page' if you want to see it on that site.

For your convenience I've copied it and will post the response following...

Mr. Tarson,

You have continually shown nothing but contempt and disrespect to our organization from the first day you wrote about us in your blog in January, 2007.

Although some RAID members are against it, I have decided to put your message on our feedback page and give you the consideration you find so difficult to afford our group.

As always, we will ask the voting public to decide the issues before us. The approximately 1,700 signatures we collected during our petition drives speaks volumes about how the people of Kingman feel about what we say and do.

Mike Bihuniak
R.A.I.D. President

KINGMANRAID.INFO did me a solid...

Word is out all over town that RAID has a pretty nice and organized web site up and running.

Of course my interest was peaked to see if there would be a 'feedback' option or some other way to leave a response on their site. I did come across one and thought about offering my own submission. Especially when I saw the following...

Visitors to the Kingman R.A.I.D. website have e-mailed us praise, comments, suggestions and yes, even criticism. Those that have given R.A.I.D. permission to include their comments appear below. We encourage your feedback to help us grow and improve this website. No personal information or personal e-mail addresses will ever be used except with your written permission.

So, you know me, it was after the work day and I decided to send the RAID web site a little something. Kuddo's to them, they put it up (which I thought they would do all along). If you want to see what I left them you will have to click this link here.

You might have to click on the 'Feedback To RAID' link on the left hand side if the link doesn't take you directly there.

Now, to be clear I do not condone causing trouble for the RAID members or for their website. If you decide that you would like to post some of your own feedback, please have some courtesy and respect. The RAID folks are nice people and I'm happy to have them as neighbors in Kingman. I simply disagree with their viewpoints and that is all.

I have been fisking RAID columns and letters to the editor for some time, I thought that offering them something to do the same with was only fair.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oh goodie!!

My favorite mouthpiece for RAID cast another diatribe about squashing opportunities for working folks and other citizens that live in Kingman and it appeared this morning in the Kingman Daily Miner. This means it is time once again to pull out the scissors, make some cuts, and fisk the column with impunity.

Full disclosure for a second. I have written a column about Proposition 301 that may also appear in the Miner in the coming days. Folks will be free to fisk that column at will, and anyone who does indeed fisk my column would be a daisy if they did.

Here is the link to Mrs. Gillman's column.

Let's get this party started...

Let's wait and see what a year brings

Gwen Gillman
Just Thinking

Just thinking?? Does it hurt?? I ask because the current state of the local economy is not something that I'd want to see anyone sit back on not do anything about for another year. No, not with the identifiable needs that this community clearly has at the moment.

Then again... If I was retired... What is another year anyway... Right??

Even though some people say we should "get over and get on with it," which means we should just get over our common sense and get on with allowing a flawed City Council a $56 million blank check and allow them to sell 168 acres of open space/park land on the south side of I-40 in order for them to buy more park land around the city, this just doesn't make any sense.

My question is who is saying that we should sell 168 acres of open space designated land?? That doesn't make sense as it would not bring in top dollar. How quickly Mrs. Gillman forgets that it is her group that is trying to keep the Kingman residents best land asset handcuffed at its lowest and worst use. Which in turn limits the interest from potential buyers.

I certainly would not want our City Council agreeing to sell the property that the Kingman residents own for the least amount of money. Yet RAID's ongoing efforts to continue to devalue our property will only give us that option. That option is one I would not support.

As far as the 'flawed' City Council remark goes... I've yet to meet one politician that can make everyone happy. Especially those people with big self interests (like keeping traffic off their 84 foot wide street).

Several months ago, it was one $46 million bond issue. We pleaded with them to make each issue a "stand alone," to give the voters the opportunity to pick and choose. We received a resounding no from the City Council, saying that that was not an option - it was either all or nothing!

Within the last several months, it was broken into three separate issues. Do we need some of these items - Yes! Do we trust this City Council and department heads with this kind of money - No!

I'm confused... Mrs. Gillman you contradicted yourself. You said the City Council said it was all or nothing, but now clearly you admit that the Bond Issue has been broken up into three separate issues. Sounds like you got what you wanted to me and the City Council responded to your wish.

Now, I'll agree with you on your last bit here to a degree. I don't trust all that many folks with $56 million dollars either. However by default I will trust the voters. The voters that decide the fate of the Bond Issue, and the voters that put the elected officials in office. Mrs. Gillman, you may not like the current Council and in a manner of a few weeks we will begin to know Kingman citizens that will campaign for our votes to sit on City Council. In just a few short months into next year (this year is just about over) we, as voters, will decide who will manage the Bond Issue money... if the Bond Issues are voted in favor of by the voters.

Seriously Mrs. Gillman... what happens next year if we take your advice and defeat all of these measures AND you still don't like the make up of the City Council?? Wait longer?? How long??

Just when did Kingman pass an ordinance that elected officials have to first kiss the ring of the members of RAID before they are allowed to attend to city business??

What is the hurry? Let's see what next year brings, both in the local, state and federal economy and in the City Council election early next year to see if we have a more responsible group working in the best interests of the citizens of Kingman. Let's vote no and start again with a real list next year - not just a wish list that can be changed at any time by a vote of four people.

Yeah... just what is the hurry?? Jobs are plentiful. The local economy is booming. New businesses open every day. Property values are skyrocketing. What?? You mean that is not happening?? I guess I should take off my rose colored retirement glasses and have another look eh??

And now that I am looking around I see that Frontier Communications laid off 50 or so folks and chose to make another location a major call center, with another 150 or so employees. I see that Foxworth left town. I see a new Kohl's and Target being built in Bullhead City which will no doubt attract sales tax dollars from Kingman shoppers for a neighboring community to help those citizens instead of our own.

I see accidents on Stockton Hill Road on many occasions that back up traffic in all directions that hinder the folks that have really no other real option to get from one side of town to the other in a normal business day.

Yeah... waiting a year to see more of this is just what Kingman really needs (sarcasm).

With regard to the proposed Kingman Crossing traffic interchange, if you vote yes Nov. 6 to enable the City Council to sell the city's 168 acres south of I-40, I can practically guarantee that this City Council will start the process on Nov. 7 to sell that property to Vestar at a bargain price (it is probably already in the works)

Mrs. Gillman, please adjust your tinfoil hat... looks like it is slipping a bit. Oh and you shouldn't make guarantees on something you don't know anything about either. You see, Vestar is hired to develop and manage commercial property, they are not landowners.

Remember that the Nugent group sold their 200 acres on the north side for $12 million to Vestar.

No, I don't. Probably because that didn't happen. Vestar didn't buy the land.

Particularly since we have been told repeatedly by the city that Vestar would pay 50 percent of this interchange. Then, a couple of months ago, a Vestar representative admitted at a public meeting that Vestar would not pay any portion of the proposed interchange!

Once again, Vestar is NOT the land owner and never made any deal with the Nugent group. The new landowners, however, did make a deal with the Nugent group... and to my understanding one of the terms in that deal was that the landowner would pay for half the cost of any traffic interchange if one was ever built. I'm still waiting for someone to call me on this fact if it is wrong. I can take it.

When that happened, I truly expected our mayor and City Council to rethink this project and state that they had been duped by Beecher and Vestar and would withdraw this sale of the city property because it was wrong. Did that happen? No - it is like they totally ignored that very important point worth $11 million. Unbelievable irresponsible behavior on the part of the City Council! Who are they working for?

What on earth are you babbling about now Mrs. Gillman?? The residents of Kingman still own the 168 acres of land on the south side of the Interstate near Kingman Crossing. The landowner on the north side of the Interstate near Kingman Crossing still has agreed to the term that has them paying for half the proposed traffic interchange.

Just what are you RAIDers doing behind your locked doors at your meeting at the library anyway??

At the City Council meeting where the Council added $10 million to the Bond Issues in 10 minutes, Byram's big push was to put a railroad crossing (underpass, I assume) at Topeka for the cost of $5 million! He said, those "folks deserve one in case of a fire on that side of town." $5 million!

I guess I think smaller.

I think you are right.

How about, instead, putting a single-wide or small building as a fire sub-station, dedicate a fire truck and make sure water is always available to the truck in case of fire. Sure beats the heck out of a $5 million underpass, don't you think?

I'm not sure. There is still a public safety issue with over 100 freight trains cruising through Kingman on a daily basis. I think I'd rather see less railroad crossings that have to be driven over to get to the other side, but that is just me.

Listen up brave and courageous men and women that serve in the fire department, Mrs. Gillman wants to put you up in a single wide!! Nothing but the 'best' for you fine folks.

Again, it does take guts to put something like this in public. I applaud Mrs. Gillman for her attempts. Once it is out there though, folks like me like to have their way with it. And of course because I too am putting something in the Miner, my attempts are up for public scorn and criticism in the same manner that Mrs. Gillman's are. So look for that soon... and in the meantime I will continue to scan for RAID submission and apply the necessary course of action.

Until next time...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Community voices...

Things are starting to heat up in the letters to the editor pages of the Miner. Here is a couple from yesterday's paper. Worth reading.

Try this one...

Do we really want RAID to run the city, even though I support many of their concerns? I don't see any volunteers from their ranks anyway. Or perhaps from that new real estate organization who specializes in "educating us" - who are they? And I know I certainly don't want anyone from the Chamber of Commerce or especially a Realtor or banker in the mayor's office - even though some of them are very nice people, personally, but ... well ... hmmmm ... Who manages Wal-Mart?

(my emphasis)

Yeah... just who are they anyway??

Here is the other...

I must have missed the Miner issue where the newspaper, in fairness to our mayor and Council, listed the names of all of the "RAIDers" and a brief biography of their personal and professional lives (so we know which general contractor, development company or real estate office they work for or own). Fortunately, I expect this information will be available in the foreseeable future. I am sure that Mr. Pennington and his cronies in "Raiders of the Lost Lots" will, because of their great concern for our community, run for office in our next election.

That is just good stuff right there.

I want one...

This last weekend was spent in the Prescott Arizona area. A couple of good friends and I decided that we would hit a couple of fishing spots to try our luck. Turned out not to be that great of an expedition to land a lunker. In fact I didn't even land a spare tire or anything else that may have been submerged under the water.

But that just didn't matter, as it turned out.

Since we had decided to head to the Prescott area, we checked out an event schedule a few days before we left and lo and behold we found ourselves an opportunity to take in a minor league sporting event on Saturday night. The sporting event would not have mattered to me, but it happened to be an ice hockey game... most know that I'm a huge fan of the game and even still play in recreation leagues to this day. But honestly... the star of the game (to me) was not the hockey game, the teams, or the players (although all of it was entertaining). The star of the show was the place, the venue, the big building that has so much potential.

I sat in amazement throughout the event fantasizing about having one of these kinds of venue's located somewhere in Mohave County.

You may remember last summer that I wrote about the possibility of this happening. Now that I've actually been there, seen it, experienced it, and so forth... I'd bet most folks would want it too.

Unfortunately I left my camera behind, I would love to have shared some interior photo's as well.

The game itself was exciting, there were 13 goals scored and the home team won by a single goal. The crowd was really into it... and there were no fights in the game. The arena website says the place holds up to 5,100 for hockey games. While I saw some empty seats, all of the sections were mostly filled with live bodies in the seats.

Whether everyone there was a longtime hockey fan or not (I suspect most are new fans, which is great), one thing was apparent that night. This was a place to be seen. It was a place to meet up with friends and family. It was a place for entertainment.

I want one... that was the thought running through my head all night long.

While the arena may have been built for the hockey team, there are plenty of other events held there. Here is a link to some of them. Another sports team will be using the arena in short order as well. There is talk of an indoor American football league playing it's games there.

From the my article that I linked to earlier, the hockey league appears to be opening up a new team in Yuma and to start play sometime in 2008. Lucky dogs.

Hopefully there is still an outside shot of something like this happening in the Mohave County area. I'd easily go to games as often as I could if they happen to be in Bullhead City or Havasu. I think Bullhead City is the most ideal area since it is located close to Laughlin Nevada... and those casino's would likely pay big dollars to sponsor the naming rights of the area, purchase luxury boxes, and comp their guests for games and events.

I think getting one of these will be a pet project for me. I will be making some calls to let whoever it is I need to that I would love to help in any way I can to bring this kind of venue to our area.

I can see this kind of project creating all kinds of jobs, revenue opportunities, and exposure. There were people from all walks of life at the game on Saturday night. The game represented an entertainment option for the residents of Mohave County that just doesn't exist at the moment.

Of course, until there is one of these things located a bit closer to home... I won't hesitate to find some kind of excuse to catch a few more of these games in Prescott Valley from time to time. I had myself a very good seat and it cost me all of $11 for the ticket.

Speaking of excuses... I did leave all the fish in the lakes this time... I don't think it will be too long before I'd like to try again... but only if there is a hockey game to catch in the evening.

Friday, October 19, 2007

El Cajon, CA v/s Santee, CA

A long time ago, not so far away I lived in California. My girls were very young then and I worked in construction accounting. I lived in a nice apartment complex in El Cajon, California. I was looking for something to buy. Now, my price range for a home was between $100,000-125,000, that will give you an idea of how long ago we are talking. I needed to be near good schools, parks, and of course work. I looked high and low and after exhausting El Cajon began looking elsewhere....only now I was looking for employment and a home. I found both in Santee, CA. I chose Santee because I found a wonderful condo complex, which at the time suited my needs. There was a wonderful pre-school near-by that had very affordable tuition. I found work that was near my home, life was good.

It wasn't until years later I discovered what lay beneath my decisions. You see back then El Cajon was struggling with a very anti-growth ideology within their citizens and local government. They were fearful that they would 'lose their suburban feel'. Meanwhile, Santee was of a different ideology and worked very diligently to utilize their assets, which as land, the small local airport and such. They encouraged clean business to move in and many 'tilt up' business offices were built. Businesses moved in offering good paying positions. At the same time there were affordable condominiums being built. What it did was 'woo' young professionals like myself looking to invest in an affordable home, school their children and work in the same community.

The point I am trying to make is that although I didn't choose a community based on what was happening with each of their local politics I did see what those different policies created and was drawn to the community that was growing and had all of those things a person would be looking for.

Our community has always attracted retiree's from far and wide and why not. Kingman has fantastic weather and is still affordable and even though we don't have major shopping or cultural events it is only a hop, skip and a job away....our community has benefited from those people that have moved here.

Shouldn't we all embrace the idea of growing our community to appeal to a wide range of people? When you get a home ready to sell you want to 'stage' it and make sure it's appeal is for the greatest audience. What about your community? Shouldn't the same thing go? We could set the stage for business to choose Kingman over another community which in turn will generate interest in young professionals to come as well. I don't know....sounds simple to me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just a scenario... for fun

I'm going to take a few moments to outline a far out, wacky, silly, unfounded, goofy, and not-really-all-that-serious scenario based on wildly speculative, way out of the ordinary, dumbfounded, not-too-be-taken-with-a-grain-of-salt assumptions.

Get it so far??

For the folks that don't care about the local political issues you can stop reading now, but as for the rest... just indulge for a few minutes.

Here are the following assumptions that will make up the scenario later on.

#1 - Kingman voters say 'YES' to Kingman in the upcoming election in November. The bond issues pass, the land use designation change passes (Prop 301), and the voters give the authority to city council to sell some or all of the resident owned 168 acres in located in the Kingman Crossing area. (Prop 300 is not in play for this scenario)

#2 - Kingman voters decide by next May on three council members and a mayor... could be all new faces, the exact same faces, or a mix... it doesn't really matter because the results will be the will of the voters.

I'm not asking anyone to agree with the above so far... only to play along for a bit.

Now... it is clear to me that there is $36,400,000 for capital expenditures for street improvements in the recently passed bond (use your imagination and pretend it is 2008). We have been told by the city that there are nine projects included slated for those funds to be used for. However, we've also been told that the city council could spend that money on a different project if it chose... but it would have to be on a street/road improvement.

There are many voters in town that have a sense of worry that the city council would take the bond money for road improvements and use it for a certain infrastructure improvement located near what is called Kingman Crossing along Interstate 40. The reported cost of that proposed project is somewhere between $20 - $28 million... I'll just make an even $30 million for this scenario.

RAID's worst nightmare... certain local developers and investors worst nightmare... yes it is, but stay with me. Plenty of time to tear this scenario down later.

Anyone can call bullshit on this next bit. If I'm dead wrong... so be it... correct me. I've heard on numerous occasions that when the commercial property on the north side of I40 near Kingman Crossing was sold to the heavy handed, impossible to negotiate with, out of town land speculators that the terms included the new land owner was to pony up half the costs of a new traffic interchange if one was ever built.

Now... let's say the city council goes through and changes where the bond money is supposed to be spent and earth moving equipment begins to invade in the Kingman Crossing area (have the defibrillator's ready at that city council meeting). Cost of the traffic interchange at Kingman Crossing equals $30 million. City of Kingman would be on the hook for half and the cost would then be $15 million. Construction begins.

During the bond issue election, the voters passed this bond because of the real need for more parks and even a new sports complex. City officials informed the audience at the most recent CIVIC meeting that, at current, Kingman only has two acres of land to develop a park. Well that isn't enough for a new sports complex. Especially one that will likely cost nearly $4 million dollars (but enough space for a roller hockey facility... just sayin').

I'm guessing that a really nice sports complex and community park will need in the neighborhood of 40 to 60 acres. Luckily, it just so happens that the residents of Kingman own roughly 168 acres of land in a nice location, but that land is more ideally situated for commercial use since it has Interstate 40 frontage. Now that the residents land is designated for commercial use AND there is a new traffic interchange under construction it is likely that there will be increased demand from land developers (commercial specifically) to acquire some or as much of that land as possible. We could be asked to part with some or all of that property for some big bucks.

Or... maybe we all agree to sell only 100 to 110 acres to whoever makes an acceptable offer and leave the balance of the property for that regional park that many folks want... in fact say that park helps buffer the future commercial development from the residential area on that south side. But it is only 2008 at the moment... and we don't actually have a buyer at this point. Construction on a new park with a sports complex begins.

Now, I don't know what 100 acres or so of commercially designated land with Interstate frontage and a new traffic interchange for convenient access is worth today (or in 2008, or 2009, or at some other time in the future) but I'm guessing it will have more value than it does with no traffic interchange and a land designation limited to open space. Just a hunch. (And there is always that possibility of leasing that land as well, but for this scenario I will use a sale of the property)

As of this moment in the scenario so far... the new traffic interchange is being constructed and there has been no sale of any city owned property on the south side of the area to this point. The developers on the north side will no doubt come calling on city council to get zoning changes for whatever developments they have planned (including a new hospital).

Now is about the time that a resolution hits city council that perhaps turns into an ordinance that creates a new special commercial district... I'll call it the Kingman Crossing Commercial District. The city of Kingman will decide to either impose a reasonable special property tax on the commercial property in that district OR raise the sales tax rate slightly on all goods sold on those properties in the district. This district does not have to be something that exists till the end of time, it could be in use for 20 years. The revenue raised from the district will go towards maintaining the new park on the south side, a road improvement fund (that could help pay for the cost of city's share for the Rattlesnake Wash traffic interchange or simply finish out the remaining projects from the bond passed in 2007) , or maybe towards something else we haven't thought about as of yet.

All right... the last paragraph is even more wacky than I thought it possible for me to be. Forget all that and we'll just maintain status quo with the development fees for commercial property and enjoy the extra sales tax revenue from the new commercial property on the north side of the Interstate to help offset other costs in the budget and to finish the other projects in the street improvement bond issue.

But... with a looming high priced bill to pay for another traffic interchange due likely in 2013 or later... the city might start looking for buyers for the 100 to 110 acres of commercially designated property on the south side of the Interstate. I am willing to bet that by the time the Kingman Crossing interchange is nearing completion AND the commercial project on the north side is nearing completion that there will be some very interested buyers willing to pay top dollar for property with Interstate frontage. That point in time at the latest.

I won't guess what the price will be but I'll bet all I have that the price is in the millions (plural) and maybe even in the tens of millions of dollars in this scenario. The eventual sale will offset any expenditure made on the Kingman Crossing project and likely add more funds for whatever the city in most need of at that time.

The city will see increased sales tax revenues once the commercial project on the north side begins to open. The city will also see an influx of development fees that fetch a large dollar amount (if those fees are still around).

The residents of Kingman will have a new sports complex and the regional park concept thingy that many in the community are asking for.

The residents of Kingman will have new alternatives for access routes to help diminish traffic on Stockton Hill Road. Public safety and convenience add to the quality of life in the community. This coupled with the Rattlesnake Wash interchange following in a few years will really add to the convenience and will undoubtedly make Kingman a great town to get around in.

With proper planning and intelligent annexation, the residents should see new development shift easterly and not so much in 'their' backyard (and certainly away from the sacred street of Seneca).

I just presented the nightmare option for the most critical of the critics of the city if the voters were to vote 'YES' to Kingman in the upcoming election. But... the nightmare comes with a 'regional' park.

Relax critics... don't get all bent out of shape. Of course I don't have all the answers here nor have I filled in all the gaps. I told you at the beginning that this was just crazy thinking. I just explored one possibility by thinking out loud.

I merely used my imagination to anoint myself King of Kingman for a day and swiped $15 million dollars from the street improvement bond and used it on something that I feel will benefit folks in Kingman from all walks of life with varying needs, set in place the strong possibility of increasing sales tax revenues, and improved the quality of life.

I did this exercise because when I use my imagination to do like what RAID and others are asking us all to do (wait another year or two before making decisions for the future), I simply draw a blank... I don't see anything. That frightens me as a business owner in this town.

No... I'd rather have options at this time, which is why I'm saying 'YES' to Kingman when others want me to say 'NO'.

November 6th is voting day... please... please... vote. I'm not telling you how to vote here, just sharing my thoughts and my likely voting pattern. For once I'd love to see a large turnout to simply know how the fine folks in Kingman are truly feeling about the future of this great place to live.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Last nights CIVIC meeting...

Just a few bits from the meeting last night. First it was held at the Kingman High School auditorium which can hold hundred's of people... but to my surprise only about 35 folks or so showed up.

Secondly, it was nice to see an avowed critic of CIVIC (a NON partisan, NON political group whose goal is to get more voter participation) show up to be in attendance and even contribute some questions on the content. The words 'Jim Rhodes' were never uttered once at the CIVIC meeting, but as I understand it today... those words were brought up after the meeting... and of course by the avowed critic.

The RAID president was invited to be a participant in last nights event but did not make the invited appearance. Other members did, however, show up and offered some views and questions of the speakers that did show up.

All in all it was an interesting evening. I'm not writing this to tell anyone how to vote on the bond issues. I have my own reservations about increasing my family's tax bill. However it is apparent that Kingman could use some capital funding for various improvements and to date I haven't heard of another way that funding could be made available for some or all of the improvements that make up city's request that the voters will vote on next month. Time isn't exactly standing still waiting on other solutions that have NOT come forward to consider.

And as always, I have always been a part of a worthy discussion with a few people after the meeting is over. I had the pleasure of bouncing some thoughts and ideas off a couple of young ladies as I headed toward the parking lot. I'd say that I probably have a different view point on some things than last nights counter part, but we had a nice level headed exchange and I can certainly respect whatever differences we may have (the differences really aren't all that far apart). Kingman is lucky to have some great young folks around right now who will no doubt have the ability to become great leaders some day, and some day is probably not all that far off.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

RAIDers frantically respond...

Last Sunday the president of RAID responded to a column written a week before by a resident of Kingman. Of course this means I get to get out my scissors and take much of the response to task.

Now this column is extremely long and winded, so I won't be addressing everything. If you would like to see the column in its entirety please click here.

Also, keep in mind that this column is in response to a column that I linked to last week and you can see that here on this link to my blog post.

Before I begin I just want to pass something on to the RAIDers for a second. Some of this stuff I am simply having some fun with. No need to get all bothered by all of it. It is just at this point, after the months and months of your group stating the exact same things over and over again that some of your spiel is getting comical.

Let's begin...

RAID is not going away anytime soon

Mike Bihuniak
RAID President


As President of RAID, I feel compelled to answer your unwarranted attack on our group that appeared in last Sunday's Miner, Ms. Busch. Usually we tend to ignore attacks on us and let the facts speak for themselves, but this latest assault needs to be answered because your statements are inflammatory and false.

(All emphasis mine throughout)

Who's facts?? Yours?? RAID's problem right now is that the facts are not speaking for them.

You first attack our name and say we should be accused of being against all growth and being anti-Kingman

I'll agree and say that it appears RAID is not against all growth in Kingman... just growth in certain area's where the 10 or so members predominately live. RAID has been against an extremely important commercial development project from the get go, and has even gone so far to be against much needed infrastructure improvements that could improve the quality of life for many residents throughout the city of Kingman and beyond.

What RAID will likely say in this regard is that all things involving this needed commercial development and infrastructure improvements need to be put on the back burner for a year minimum. RAID will say that this position does not equal anti-growth... in their eyes.

Of course, you also fail to list our accomplishments, such as preventing our City Council from giving away our well sites in Golden Valley to Mr. Rhodes at a price well below their market value, or most recently speaking out at the last Council meeting on the proposed changes in the C-1 zoning text that would allow numerous undesirable businesses into our neighborhoods.

Well, how braggadocios of RAID. There must be an appraiser or two that belong to RAID (retired most likely). Just what is market value anyway??

And speaking out about commercial zoning is hardly something that equals championing for the good folks of Kingman. Especially since members of RAID were the only folks doing so at the meeting and in their effort made a very weak case at an open meeting. Got to come up with something better than 'because Gwen says so'. I know many folks that are working with the city on a weekly basis to come up with a plan that best serves all of Kingman on this subject and all have told me that NO members of RAID are lending a hand. Lots of work still to be done before these changes see a chance to actually be changes.

Also, a number of our members spoke in support of Joy Brotherton in her effort to rezone residential property to commercial that was in the midst of mostly already commercial zoned properties so that the people living there were able to sell their properties for a reasonable price.

Yes RAID did support this and should have for the reasons they mentioned. What they haven't mentioned is that the rezone case came only after a major amendment to the general plan was made that changed the land use designation for the property in question.

The very same folks that supported Mrs. Brotherton's request to change the general plan later in the same meeting (back in April) told the fine citizens of Kingman that the general plan should not be changed on another important piece of property (located closer to Seneca St.) because the voters of Kingman voted to pass the general plan and the general plan should not be changed without another vote (see Prop 301).

Read it again. The general plan can be changed with the blessing of RAID in some cases, but not when those cases have Interstate frontage or could have some affect on the sacred street of Seneca. I think hypocrisy is the right word here.

You speak of the bond issue as if it is the salvation of this community, and if it were presented properly, I'm sure it would be accepted more readily by the public.

I'm getting the feeling that the bond issue is being supported and accepted by the public. Many folks are already willing to say 'YES' to Kingman, instead of 'NO' like RAID wants them to. Even the editor of the newspaper that covers RAID's every move is saying 'YES'.

The property and business owners of this town would be willing to vote for SPECIFIC PROJECTS, not baskets of wish lists that are being presented to us. You also fail to mention that this $56 million stealth property tax gives this lame duck Council

For the part I emphasized, keep that in mind for a bit later. And why is this council a lame duck?? There are no term limits and there have been no successful recalls.

I have my own reservations about increasing my property taxes by passing the bonds, but what is in the back of my head right now is the feeling that groups like RAID (and other self interests in town) will work to defeat the things that Kingman needs in terms of improvements... and the citizens of Kingman can't simply take on that risk that RAID and others will see to it that the city only progresses when RAID and the other self interests decide that it is okay to do so.

Could some of this bond money be used to finance the proposed Kingman Crossing traffic interchange? Possibly

Finally. At the root of the issue for RAID and priority number one... to defeat any chance of a new traffic interchange to improve such issues as increased sales tax revenue's, public safety, public convenience, and improved quality of life. All for the 'betterment' of Kingman. Yeah right.

Our position is to wait one year and hopefully a new mayor and three new Council members will present us with specific projects to accept or deny.

Funny... I didn't think government worked like that. I thought leaders were elected by the people of Kingman to make the tough decisions. I didn't realize leaders were elected by the people to only then kiss the ring of RAID.

And one year?? What if RAID doesn't like the new ring kissers?? What then?? Wait two years??

I suggest that if you want to learn about who we are and what we are about, please go to our Web site, KINGMANRAID.INFO, and perhaps you will see what we are. We are totally comprised of Kingman residents, we have no out-of-town representatives on our board like another group pushing for the bond issue. Ask yourself why people living in Henderson and Phoenix are coming to Kingman to push for the bond issue in our town?

The RAID hypocrisy knows no bounds, I guess. Here they are asking you to see what RAID is all about by visiting their website. In the next breath though the president of RAID makes some accusation about a different community group he knows nothing about.

RAID is so disingenuous right here it is beyond comical. The RAID president is obviously taking a jab at the local community NON POLITICAL group called CIVIC. The RAID president has no basis for making the accusation he has about a group whose only goal is to raise awareness about local governmental issues and to help motivate folks to vote their own free will who normally would not do so otherwise.

These cheap shots from a group like RAID and other local self interests could be considered as an effort to supress vote's. See, I can say outlandish things as well.

The critics of CIVIC all have one thing in common to this point, they've never been to a CIVIC meeting. Maybe it is time for the critics to get their ass down to the next meeting before spouting off with the lies they have told.

Oh... and wouldn't you know... RAID has been invited to tonights CIVIC meeting to make a presentation against the bond issues to an audience full of folks that may or may not be voting, may or may not have made up their mind on how they'll vote, or may or may not have had even heard of RAID.

If you do leave a comment here please include a yes or no on whether or not you think RAID will actually show up as the invited guests that they are to make that presentation.

Once again folks, I do make it clear that I disagree with the RAID organization and what it stands for. However, I do respect the ten or so folks that are members of RAID. I will not personally attack any individual member and I ask that you abide and offer the same respect if you choose to leave a comment. Thanks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sales tax revenue down

Here is an article from the Kingman Daily Miner. In it the reporter was interviewing Coral Loyd who said a lot of things that I agree with.

1. The cities revenue goal is short in the first quarter of the fiscal year and it's not the fault of the cities impact fees.

No, it is a decline in retail sales right here in Kingman. I've been hearing all over town that citizens hours have been cut whether they are in construction, lending, service industry related or just about anything else. Ms Loyd encourages Kingman's residents to shop local too, which I have to say I applaud. There are ways to create more jobs in Kingman.

2. Ms Loyd also said that the city is placing a freeze on hiring as one of it's cost saving measures.

I think that it is prudent that the city do just that. Unfortunate, but prudent. There economic strategies which will increase sales tax revenues and jobs in Kingman.

3. Ms Loyd also said that if the voters approve the bond issues in November there will be new construction which will provide jobs for more people and those people in turn will be able to spend that money in the community.

Makes sense to me. In fact, anything the city and it's citizens can do to keep a forward momentum is good. Growth is good, stagnation is not. It's just common sense.

4. The last comment from Ms Loyd was regarding Rattlesnake Wash and Kingman Crossing.

The most responsible thing for the citizens of Kingman to do is identify those projects which will enhance the city, provide jobs, improve the infrastructure and attract new people to our community and show their support for those projects! Keep the forward momentum we had going Kingman.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spread the word...

Do you want to know more about the bond issues on the ballot for Novembers election, feel free to attend a community meeting this week. Here is the info.


The CIVIC group will host the Kingman City Capital Bond Meeting Tuesday October 16, 2007 6:30pm at the Kingman High School North Campus Auditorium. Speakers will present valuable and factual information about the Capital Bond. Citizens are encouraged to attend so that you can cast an informed vote in November.

September Sales Report (2007)

Welcome back to the bloodbath, the horror show, and the end of times. That was a bit dramatic, we are only talking the housing market after all.

After 5 months of sales in units in the 50's (or better) each month... we have managed to slip off the ledge and are back in the 30's. The traditional selling season is over... WITH A VENGEANCE.

This report won't be pretty and once again it will basically be slanted towards the sellers in this mess. But first... the disclaimer...

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

Listings and sales in units chart:

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends... More listings and less sales in units. It was just a weak, weak selling season. Hate to sound like a Chicago Cubs fan here but ... there is always next year.

Average listings and sales averages chart:

Here we see for the first time the average asking price be lower for the new listings than the average price paid for homes that closed in September. This almost happened a year ago. It will be interesting to see if these numbers remain close over the next few months. It may mean that the new sellers on the market are getting a better look at the big picture in the market. However, the price per square foot for the asking price of new listings is still about $10 more than the sold average price per square foot. Again... interesting to see how this goes.

2004 through 2007 unit sales chart:

Sellers... this is part of the big picture. It ain't pretty.

2004 through 2007 average price chart:

2004 through 2007 median price chart:

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in September had 3.29 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2.176 car garage, included 1,745 square feet of living space, and was built in 1995. The average hold sold for an average of $128 per square foot of living space.

It took an average of 108 days of marketing to attract a buyer to come to an agreement and a total of 148 days from the first day of marketing to the close of escrow.

Sellers reduced price $8,160 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $10,284 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in September was $18,444.

Bonus Chart:

Here you can see the sales price slipping in real time. Back in June we saw basically the same size home sell for an average of $5 dollars more per square foot than we just saw last month.

Homes are still selling in Kingman, and any seller can sell their home. The key is price at this time. Remember to price your home 'in' the market and not simply 'on' the market.

Till next time...

Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 AAR Leadership Conference wrap up...

Last night marked only the second night I was able to sleep in my bed (really the couch with the TV on) in my home in Kingman this month. First there was that new Minnesota episode feature added to my life, and then after getting back to Kingman... I was off once again to Phoenix for a couple of nights.

I was in Phoenix for the Arizona Association of Realtors annual leadership conference. This event was either the fifth or sixth time for me to attend (I've honestly lost count). Once again though, the event this year outdid the previous... as it always seems to be year in and year out.

It is a complete honor for me to be in a large room with many other local Realtor Association leaders. Over the time I've been involved, some of the faces have changed, but I'm happy to say that I've made some great connections with other long time leaders throughout the state at events like this. It is great to see the same look in those people's eyes talking about their own Associations as I must have when I do the same. The experience is unique and fulfilling.

The Wednesday morning session started with a presentation by Jim Manke of Association Solutions Inc. His firm lends a hand to various types of trade organizations and Associations, obviously including Realtor Associations. The presentation was simple yet extremely effective to me. It was a 'nuts and bolts' type of discussion on what Association Board leaders could consider in making the Association more effective for the Membership.

Topics included; smart moves for successful Associations, evaluating the performance of the Board, evaluating Board meetings (a biggie for me and wish I saw this presentation before I was president of KGVAR in 2006), maximizing the value of the staff/leadership partnership, and some traits of powerful leadership.

What I found most interesting of all was a discussion about the differences in generations (the Baby Boomers, Gen-X'ers, etc.). The presentation was thought provoking for me personally as well as helpful in considering the next wave of home buyers and future Realtor Members in the not too distant future of the folks born into the 'Millennial Generation'. Talk about changes... we ain't seen nothing yet. Those folks will surely learn from mistakes in the past, the will be very realistic and more careful with many aspects of their lives than those that came from previous generations.

Attendees were later given a choice to attend other breakout sessions on various subjects. I chose to attend a presentation on the importance of Association involvement in local government issues. The presenter was Tom Augherton of AAR (a former mayor of Cave Creek Arizona). I have been lucky to have Tom's help all throughout this year as KGVAR's Government Affairs Committee Chair... he is practically at the top of my speed dial list at this point with the many issues our committee is involved in locally.

Tom acknowledged and even praised some of the efforts of our local committee in his presentation. He sort of 'name-dropped' us because of the progress we have made in our first year as a fledgling group.

It is amazing all of the different issues that are facing the 21 local Associations in Arizona, yet there are also underlying common issues (real estate transfer taxes, growth, and of course water issues).

I then attended an update on AAR's plan to offer each Member in the state a transaction management program. I do not know all the details of how the transaction management program will work, but it will greatly impact our business in a positive way. Look for this to be implemented in the new year and I will of course have more information on this as the time gets closer. In essence, this program will offer brokers, agents, and most importantly clients the opportunity for improved service and accuracy in a transaction... it will probably save a few forest's worth of paper as well.

The last bit that I'll bore you with is that on Wednesday night I was installed as the new Region One Vice President to the Executive Committee for 2008. It is an honor to continue representing the great Members from our area for the next two years. I'll also be representing Members from the Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, La Paz, and Yuma Associations on their behalf at the state level. And remember when I talked about generations a bit earlier... I just might be the first person from my generation to hold this kind of position at the state Association from our area. I'm really looking forward to being part of the solution and I can't thank the great folks from our State Association, as well as friends and mentors here in the local area, for helping me get to this point.

A bad quality photo of me during the installation ceremony on Wednesday night.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I was out with a friend yesterday. We'll call her 'jane'. She graduated from KHS and so did her husband who she has two beautiful children with. She is a homeowner and 'certified' soccer mom. Her husband has worked at the same job for over 10 years and she is self-employed. Sounds like the average American family doesn't it. I just wanted to give a little backround on jane so that readers can kind of know who the person is I was having a conversation with. Janes circumstances are such that here in the near future she may wish to place her home on the market and then purchase a larger home. Consequently, we have been talking about the market, which by the way I think is steadily improving, locally especially.

Jane and I see each other every few weeks and we catch up on what is going on in each others lives; we also, because of my profession, talk about real estate inventory levels and economics and of course the upcoming elections and how they will effect Kingmans growth and direction.
Then just before I left, out of the blue, jane brought up a topic we have never talked about before. Jane asked me if I had read the most recent article by the editor of the Kingman Daily Miner. Jane went on to say, 'why does our paper always try to paint 'us' as dim witted hicks?' 'In fact, the Miner prints a lot of negative articles--have you been noticing that?" You know what....it's true. Now as I said, I was leaving so I didn't talk to her about it much, but I did agree with her and encouraged her to contact the author and tell him how she felt.

I agree with both Todd and Monica all of us have a duty as a citizen of our community to assist in those endeavors which are positive for our community in moving forward and to create solutions to those situations which are counter productive. I truly believe that there are quite of few of us who do just that.

Kingman has been a great place for me and my family. I remember going to the Mohave Community Orchestra before Christmas and watching my daughter play Handel. I have seen my other daughter sing Christmas carols on the court house steps. The girls and I had an entry in one of the first 'Flaming Bed Races' held on Beale street sponsered by one of Kingmans long time residents and business owner. That's just a little of what my children and I have been able to be involved in by living in Kingman. In fact, have you noticed, there is something going on in Kingman almost every weekend of the month whether it is an art festival, book signing, parade, fair, auto show or........the list goes on.

I've come to a conclusion. I think those that constantly have negative things to say about our community are really people to be pitied. I doubt they could be happy in any community. In fact, I bet they are just miserable people no matter what is going on. There is always two ways to look at the things going on around you. There's either great things to support or opportunities to make things better! Go Todd, go Monica!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Well Done...

When I was away I saw a very nice column from a Kingman resident in the local paper about one of the issues coming up on the November ballot.

See column here.

I think Monica Busch is right, it is time to say YES to Kingman and the future.

All communities need development. This community has grown so much since I moved here 20 years ago. Did I move here because Kingman was a small rural community? You bet I did! Have I grown with the community? You bet I have! Do I like everything that has happened and the way some things have been handled? Not on your life!

The difference - I don't sit back and complain about things, I try and get problems resolved, to help things grow.

I am pro-active in our community. This community needs growth, or like a flower without water and Miracle-gro, we will die.

The bond issue coming up is a perfect example of "water and Miracle-gro" for our "Kingman community flower" - we need that bond issue passed in its entirety.

Look around - we need more parks and recreational areas, we need more/better public safety, and if you have ever driven down Stockton Hill Road, you know we need street improvements!
Thank you for your voice.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Heading home...

Today I am heading back to Kingman after spending a week moving into my new part time home in Apple Valley Minnesota.

For October, it has been incredibly warm here (I packed things like sweatshirts and jackets that I just didn't need). Of course the weather outlook after I leave looks like the new neighbors in Minnesota are going to be in for what they are more familiar with.

I'm sharing some photo's here and can't wait to get caught up on things when I get back.

1700 plus miles in the 26 footer. While I may have truck driving in my bloodlines... I'm not cut out for the job.

A few photos from the development we are staying at.

See you later.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

September Listings Report (2007)

Yes, I am tardy in presenting the listings report for this month. I've been on the road... make that the Interstates of this country... avoiding the road construction for new traffic interchanges and noticing all the Home Depot's and Lowe's stores along the highways of America.

I'll have time later on this month to catch up on all that and meanwhile lets go ahead and share some numbers from last month.

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.


Today total listings available for single family residence equals 758 (up from 731 on August 1). The rate of new listings taken per day in September was 4.13.

There were 124 new listings taken in September (number up as compared to 115 in August). The average asking price for the new listings is $217,911 (while last month is was $231,387). The median asking price is $194,900 (down from $209,050 previously).

The average newly listed home has 3.06 bedrooms, 2.06 baths, a 2.07 car garage, with 1,580 square feet of living space and was built in 1996. The average asking price per square foot of living space is $138. Lastly, 19 of the new listings were actually re-listed either by the same or different broker.

Units under contract:

As of today there are 99 total units under contract (down from 103 last month).

39 homes entered into contracts in the month of September (dropping as compared to 46 the previous month). The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $203,124 (up a touch from $202,712 last month) and the median asking price for September was $171,400 (off from last months $185,500 figure).

The average home that went under contract in September has 3 bedrooms, 2.08 baths, a 2.11 car garage, with 1,575 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994. The average asking price per square foot of living space for listings that entered contract this month is $129. It was also priced $18,019 higher when it first was listed as compared to its current asking price (the average price concession was $10,570 last month).


The prime selling season is over for this calendar year. Sellers continue to miss the mark on average when setting the price and are waiting months for buyers to come along to readjust the price. It is very interesting how the new listing home and the under contract home lines up this month. They are practically the same home. Yet the buyers are getting the sellers to reduce price 9 or 10 dollars a square foot (we won't know what the sellers actually settled for until the transactions close). If you are a seller, it won't matter what other sellers around you are doing, it matters only what you are doing to sell your home.

See you next month, on time.