Thursday, February 28, 2008

The housing market 'recovery'

I provide monthly listing and sales reports on this blog. The local media has noticed and has started to use some of my data in their articles. I'll get emails and sometimes phone calls after my reports on this blog or after a KDM article comes out. The people ask me, "when will it (market) turn around??"

I'm always reluctant to give an answer, here is why. I've been in this business now for the last seven years. I think I started at the right time. Sales were steady at first and within a couple of years... sales were soaring at record numbers. It was my first experience in a 'booming' market. The year 2005 was the high point of the booming market and since then, my business has suffered to some degree because of the (whatever you want to call it) 'busting' or 'deflating' or 'correcting' market. 2006 was better than 2007, and the first part of 2008 has been worse statistically than 2007 in terms of units sold (but it is early).

All markets are cyclical, meaning what goes up normally comes down... and when the low point is reached, the market heads back in the other direction.

Some folks have lived long enough to see these market cycles come and go. Before I decided to get into this line of work I have to admit that I never really paid much attention to housing markets and so forth. I am not an expert about the future, I don't predict the future, and I'm not comfortable at this time to say when this current market bottoms out.

All I have is the data that I have been collecting. It is historical data by the time I share it with the readers here and my clients and others thinking about hiring me to represent them on either a sale or purchase of property. I do look forward to the day when the data will show an emerging trend in the other direction. By then though, the smart real estate investors will already be back in the market. Not all folks who buy or sell property are real estate investors. Most people in fact are simply residents of the homes they purchase to put a roof over their head.

While you won't find me predicting the 'bottom' of the market, others that have been through the up's and down's before will lend their gut feeling on these types of things.

One of those folks is a person I consider to be a good friend that I've been lucky enough to meet through networking in real estate and blogging. I'm talking about Jeff Brown.

Here is a recent post of his that supports the notion that the end of the correction is near. If you have questions I think he is the right person to discuss the future with. He will say that his crystal ball is as cracked as anyone's, but he is someone that has seen many up's and down's in the real estate market.

There will come a day when I experience a few of these cycle's and have more guts to lay some cards on the table, but for now (and thanks to the Internet) we can all find more information from others that have been through the good and the bad times and be able to recognize the coming market shift. I ask that you give Mr. Brown a shot in is post and read the ensuing discussion.

I provide the data so that you can draw your own conclusions. Reading Mr. Brown's post will also allow you to do that.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MOCO's sales report featured...

... again this month in the KDM. Link here.

Aaron Royster has been the writer of these local articles and I appreciate his effort. He always calls me to ask if he can use certain quotes from the sales report posts. I only wish I had better news about the market to give him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My (not so) hidden agenda(s) revealed...

The manager of the Chicago White Sox is Ozzie Guillen, he led his team to a World Series title a few years ago. He also had a Major League playing career and was a light hitting batter, but a great fielding short-stop.

John Kruk had an interesting baseball career. You may remember that in an All-Star Game he faced Randy Johnson. One problem for Mr. Kruk... he bats left-handed and Randy Johnson (then pitching for the Mariners) was even more dominant than he is now. Kruk turned his helmet backwards and decided to bat right handed after Johnson's first pitch sailed over Kruk's head. Great moment if you remember. Kruk also played for my Phillies team for a stretch and helped them to an appearance in the World Series.

Mitch Williams also played for the Phillies in that World Series as a teammate of Kruk's. Williams was the closer and couldn't close out a game and was blamed by many for losing that World Series (yep, still hurts this fan).

Benito Santiago was rookie of the year in the National League, I believe in 1987. He was good with the bat and was an incredible defensive catcher. A real athlete for that position. He had a great career in the Major Leagues.

Roberto Alomar played second base in the Majors and is probably a Hall of Famer at some point.

Wait a minute... isn't this supposed to be a post about my hidden agenda for seeking the office of City Council?? It is. You might be wondering how the above may tie in. Well let me try.

You see all of the above Major League Baseball players mentioned above started their career in the Minor Leagues. In my childhood and adolescent years I spent the summer months at Moana Stadium in Reno Nevada watching the Class 'A' Minor League Affiliate of the San Diego Padres play baseball. The team was then called the Reno Padres. I have vivid memories, as a child might create, of watching these then unknown players play baseball. I still have autographs from some of the above players and many others than never played in the Majors.

I was eleven years old in 1982 and my best friend and I would listen to away games on the radio and see games played in Moana Stadium. We played little league baseball at a park adjacent to the big stadium and would sneak into games through a wooden fence along the right field part of the park after our own practices. Our favorite player was Kevin McReynolds who was attempting to set the single season Class 'A' record for home runs. McReynolds went on to play in the Majors but didn't have the kind of career that the others above did. That summer though, in Reno, all the kids I knew wanted to be Kevin McReynolds.

Those are my memories of days gone by. I'd love to see the kids in Kingman have the opportunity to have those kinds of memories. So part of my hidden agenda that I am revealing is how I'd love to help bring the possibility of a Minor League baseball team to the Kingman area.

I know that I could do a bit of research right now and make some calls and ask organizations to consider Kingman as a possible location for relocation or a new team for either 'Rookie' Class baseball or some other Minor League. However, at this moment, I'm simply a resident of Kingman that wants a baseball team in Kingman. I'd probably get hung up on.

If I was elected to serve the community, the first thing I would have to do is prove to the community that I am the kind of leader that can help steer the community towards successful progress. There are many more important issues that face our community today than a baseball team.

Once I prove to the community that I am indeed the right kind of public official that the community could support, the calls to organizations and other political contacts could help one day bring something like I described to a growing and emerging region of Arizona. We have great summer weather in the evenings to spend time with our families at such events... we just don't have those kinds of events at this time.

Part of my political agenda would be to earn political clout in order to help create opportunities like this. While I have an affinity for sports, my long term goals aren't solely focused on that. I think political expediency is needed to convince a college to take a chance to set up a sister school in our area. For example, maybe an affiliated school with BYU or Notre Dame... both institutions have multiple sister schools in many areas across the country. It is my opinion that strong political leaders will be needed to make this a reality some time in the future. I think a case could be made to a university to create a hydrology school right here to research things like groundwater and water availability and find results that give back to this very region.

You won't hear me talking about these issues on the current campaign trail because I think there are many more immediate issues that need attention. If elected, and if I'm part of a successful Council that proves to bring the community together to work out the problems we face, I believe that I'll begin to earn the trust of the great people of Kingman... and over time begin to think beyond the current situation and create opportunities we haven't thought of and work to bring those opportunities here.

Many candidates and community voices talk about the future for kids. I'd love to have the kids of Kingman to have similar life long memories like I had. No, it doesn't have to be baseball related and it could be something else entirely. It is my hope though that the community can count of me to help create the opportunities people want in our growing and emerging city.

Some (hidden) agenda eh??

My focus is to earn the trust of the voters, then my focus will be to prove to the community that I am an ideal leader, and then hope to use political means to create more opportunities for the people of Kingman... for as long as the voters of Kingman will have me.

Hopefully I've answered the questions the editor of the KDM had asked.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What benefits do I expect...

... if I am elected to serve the community on City Council?? That seems to be what was on the mind of the editor in his most recent op/ed.

For review this was brought up by the KDM editor in his op/ed piece that ran yesterday. The following were some of the questions I will attempt to answer.

What are they looking to gain? How will they personally benefit if elected? Why would they allow themselves to be scrutinized and dissected in public?

Because these were represented as serious questions, I'll have to answer seriously... although there is potential comedic material that came to mind when I first read the questions.

What am I looking to gain by seeking public office?? Honestly, until I saw this question I hadn't thought of it before. I've felt from the beginning that I only want to represent the community. In fact I went to a handful of people that I thought would be ideal community representatives and asked them if they thought they'd be willing to run. I won't share those names, but they know who they are... and none of them was willing to run for city office this time around for many different and personal reasons... all of which I respect and understand. If any of those folks would have run, I most likely would not have run... but I would have supported and helped them in their efforts. It ended up being my name at the end of my own list of people I thought the community would 'benefit' by having the representation of. I filed the necessary paperwork and began the campaign.

One thing that I have 'gained' so far has been the opportunity to speak to many residents of Kingman to tell them how I see the issues and their importance at this time. Many solutions can be achieved when included community voices are being considered. I believe in the concept of collaboration and feel it is vital to get our community through these somewhat trying times. I've 'gained' the opportunity to say the things that are on my mind and have found many kind residents of Kingman that happen to agree with me... and I look forward to represent them if I am elected.

If elected, I look to gain the knowledge, experience, and trust of the community from day one in order to collect political expediency needed to hopefully bring more opportunities to Kingman. Not opportunities for me or my business, but opportunities for anyone who has the will to make good on said opportunities. I've already shown that I'm willing to sacrifice my time and effort on behalf of others and it would be a great honor to do so for the greater community.

How will I personally benefit if elected?? I wish I had a better answer for this question, but my answer here is the fact that I really don't know. The pay is nominal (I think six grand a year), there are many meetings -- public or otherwise -- that would take away from my business and personal life, there will likely be plenty of reading and research on the issues that I'd be charged with offering my decision on, and many other realities that appear to me to be more on the 'sacrifice' list rather than the 'benefit' list. I've never held public office (city council) before and all I have to go on is what I've seen with current and past council's (and it appears the job comes with threats of recall, demands to resign, a guarantee that a decision made will anger a portion of the community, and ridicule in the media).

I guess I'm an idealist to some degree. I'm certainly not an expert in all things political, but I have listened to many over the years that 'wished' or 'hoped' that politicians would (for the most part) would be real representatives of the community and not folks out to line their pockets. I do realize that successful politicians sometimes have the knack to sway public opinion and the results give the appearance of favoritism to certain groups or individuals... and sometimes we see that the politician ends up 'benefiting' because of it... and usually people add an adjective before the word politician, like scumbag or dirt-bag or some other kind of 'bag' that is not all that flattering. (I know, it sounds like fun, and you want to know where to sign up...)

Before any votes were cast for me (remember, early voting has started), I have been accused of being very friendly with a certain out of town developer who is still 'efforting' to jump through all the hoops necessary to produce a new master planned development where houses and other property might eventually be sold... often with an employed real estate agent representing one or both parties to the transaction. If that development ever gets off the ground, and has success... because of the faulty rumors and allegations made, I've already come to the realization that -- if elected -- I will not be able to represent clients (especially the seller) in transactions for new homes in the new development. Certainly not while I hold office... and probably for many years after I leave office. This is how I see it anyway (I could be wrong)... all because of a rumor that has been repeated many times over many months in many different fashions... and what's more -- the development is not even IN Kingman.

As you can tell -- I'm not thinking about my own personal benefits of serving public office, but I am thinking seriously how to avoid the slightest bit of appearance of impropriety... even as it means less opportunity for my own business.

The time is now for a community conscious leader to be elected to serve the people of Kingman and I believe I am that person. That is the benefit.

Why would I allow myself to be scrutinized and dissected in public?? I hope the dissected part is figurative, the scrutiny I can handle in the literal sense. Simply, the way I see it the answer to the editor's question just comes with the office. I'm not going to fight it, I can only hope to embrace it.

There are twelve candidates running for four seats for city office... I can't speak for the other eleven but I do get the feeling that each one is willing to make some sacrifices to serve the community. The community needs to be thought of first like no other time I can think of since I've lived here. Hopefully the candidate of your choice is someone that can hold that standard. I know I can and that is why I say 'Community First' on the campaign trail.

My hidden agenda(s) will be revealed next time.

Interesting editorial in Sunday's Miner...

A thought provoking op/ed piece appeared yesterday. As a candidate for office, the question was posed, "what's in it for them?", as in what benefit am I looking for as a candidate seeking public office... I guess.

I'm going to answer, or at least attempt to answer, in the next post. For this post though I'm going to share the editorial with you and make some comments.

Here is the link to the op/ed.

We have to ask, what's in it for them?

Mark Borgard
Miner Editor

Every candidate, no matter the race, has a hidden agenda. That is a fact.

They will tell you they are running to better a city or state or nation, or they will say they just want to make a difference, but the truth is, they are running for a reason.

Most times, the reason is not apparent until after they take office.

We try to uncover their agendas. Through debates and forums and questionnaires, voters attempt to discover the "real" reason why a candidate is running for office.

What are they looking to gain? How will they personally benefit if elected? Why would they allow themselves to be scrutinized and dissected in public?

Like I said earlier, I'm happy to answer these questions in the next post.

Discovering hidden agendas at the local level can be easy and hard. Some are a no-brainer, because their agendas aren't really hidden. Take Bill Nugent for example. Mr. Nugent is running for mayor of Kingman. He says he wants to clean up city government, which is certainly in need of a thorough scrubbing, but why does he want to do that? Because he's a swell guy out to create harmony and togetherness?

Heck no. He wants to eliminate some of the red tape he's had to go through as a developer in this city.

Why not all of the red tape, if he is so bold?? I think the editor could have expounded a bit more on this subject or point he is trying to make. Why would a developer, that develops in many locations throughout the western United States want to reduce only some of the red tape?? Could it be because the red tape in Kingman is comparatively more complex and difficult than it is in other area's of the county and state?? This is what local developers and builders (not named Nugent) are telling me.

What about the other two candidates for mayor? Their agendas are much harder to ascertain. Former Mayor Monica Gates, whose husband is a developer, says she wants to right some of the wrongs she's seen in the two years since she was mayor. Her agenda really hasn't changed from 2004 or 2006, when she won and lost, respectively. She wants Kingman to grow, and she wants to see Kingman's status enhanced in the state of Arizona. Both would be beneficial.

I find this particularly funny, especially since the editor has only recently done a '180' on growth related issues... especially compared to the last city election cycle. An election cycle that saw the editor write that this mayoral candidate 'just doesn't get it'.

Don't get me wrong though, as an advocate of growth myself, I welcome the editor into the fold of folks that understand the only way to improve Kingman is to grow Kingman and attract the amenities that the community is demanding.

Then there's John Salem. While Mr. Salem plays down his ties to development, the truth is that he's tied to development just as closely as Gates or Nugent.

His wife is a member of the Short family, which owns extensive land around Rattlesnake Wash. She is also a fiduciary of other land holdings around Kingman. Mr. Salem may be a mechanic and a business owner, but there are certainly benefits that could be gained by those close to him if he were elected.

Well now... I've heard people in the community say that mayoral candidate Nugent is the Kingman Crossing candidate (I don't agree), but if those people are right then I think this makes mayoral candidate Salem the Rattlesnake Wash candidate. Not all that surprising though, I've heard this candidate say that he favors Rattlesnake Wash and wants to figure out a way to pay for it (with our tax dollars).

Finally, there are the nine candidates running for Kingman City Council. Some are closely connected to development, be it as a real estate representative,

That is me.

or they are close friends with developers.

Close friends?? Two of the other candidates are offspring of developers. Not that there is anything wrong with that... I consider my Dad a friend, but at the end of the day he is my Dad... there is a difference.

At least four of the candidates don't seem to have any connection to development, but, of course, that's what we thought about Kerry Deering when he ran for office in 2006. We've since discovered that he is a landowner of some primo property in the heart of the city.

Do these four have hidden agendas? You bet.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? No.

I guess that would depend on what the definition of 'is' is... I couldn't resist since the man that coined that phrase is still in the national news trying to get his wife elected to the top position in the country.

Also, I don't know if the campaign rules have changed since the last election, but I had to fill out and disclose all of my land holdings in Kingman (not all that impressive as compared to others I'm sure), and I believe that anyone can find out just how 'primo' a candidates holding are as the documents are public record.

It is likely that all of the candidates own property somewhere in Kingman... even if it is only the home they reside in. I'll assume that each candidate indeed does own a home or other property and decisions any of us might make can have an impact on that property. This election is NOT about property though... it is about the community.

I learned a valuable lesson after I sent a letter to the Arizona Attorney General's Office back in 2004 criticizing two executive sessions our Council held concerning our police department.

When I spoke with a representative of the AG, he stated that small-city Council members are inherently connected to development, be it as developers or bankers or land owners or real estate buyers and sellers. He told me that "average" citizens usually don't run for office because there's simply no benefit for them.

He suggested that it's better to know a candidate's motivation up front than it is to discover it later. I tend to agree with that.

I think that there are twelve extraordinary candidates seeking the four seats available on the Council. Anyone that ever fills out all the necessary paperwork and gathers the required petition signatures qualifies themselves as way more than 'average'. From what I have seen from my competition, no one is claiming to be something they are not.

I'm not sure what 'benefits' the other candidates may be seeking if elected, so far the only thing I have experienced is sacrifice... hardly a 'benefit'... and I bet the others probably feel similar.

But, stay tuned, I'll share my deepest motivations later in a new blog post. Until then feel free to see some of my shared insights on my campaign website.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

She plunged...

Here is a link to the 'Polar Plunge' that my wife took part in yesterday. I do not have the photo's as of yet and I did not notice her in this video. She told me that the news reporter did interview her for the nightly news, but apparently the report did not run. If I find it at some point, I'll be sure to link to it. Gail actually 'plunged' twice. When you click on the link there is a short advertisement to sit though first.

The good news here is that friends and family in Kingman helped raise plenty of money to help the effort. She raised a little over $2,000 in less than two weeks.

As promised... as soon as I have photos, I will post them.

Gail would like me to express her gratitude for all that helped her cause.

You know... it didn't really look all that cold... I mean the sun was shining.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Turn Back the Clock (op/ed #3)... post election

Over the last few days I have been posting old coverage from the KDM of the last run-up before the primary in 2006. This is the last installment of my little series. This op/ed is from the next day following the election and it is written by the editor of the KDM.

The entire op/ed is linked here.

Message is loud and clear
Slow Down!


Mark Borgard
Miner Editor

Tuesday’s election results remind me of the Verizon commercials: “Can you hear me now?” Kingman residents were heard loud and clear Tuesday, and the message was the same message many have been saying for the last two years: slow down!

How has that message worked out for the working class community since then?? Kingman is right in the heart of an expected growth region and many people that work for a living are dependent on continued growth (notice I didn't say 'massive' growth), and while it only says 'slow down' above, later there is a reference of putting on the brakes.

While it was popular to lay the town's ills on 'developers' the last election period, the truth of the matter was that if it wasn't for development in Kingman this town would look a lot more like Dolan Springs (no offense) than what the community actually does today. There's not a lot of development in Dolan Springs... not a lot of jobs either.

Residents took back their town Tuesday when they voted in two Council candidates who have no ties to development and overwhelmingly backed former Mayor Les Byram, who has promised to try to stem the massive flow of growth we’ve seen over the last year.

So what have those residents done since they 'took' back the town from development?? Is the community better off today than it was two years ago?? Is it better for the entire community, or just those particular residents that don't like new neighbors??

If Byram is unable to push his numbers over that 50-percent mark, the door remains open a bit for Gates. She will have to reintroduce herself to the community, and assure residents that she has learned from past mistakes. It will be a tough sell.

Not only did voters align themselves against massive development by backing Byram, they intended to give the former mayor some firepower by voting in Janet Watson and Kerry Deering onto the Council. Neither has ties to builders or landowners, which made them attractive to voters who looked to put the brakes on massive growth on Tuesday.

The traffic light was green, but for whatever reason the voters put on the brakes. Revenues have dwindled, jobs have been lost, opportunities thwarted, and for what?? For who??

I found it quite telling when I arrived at a polling station Tuesday to see a big pickup parked on the road just outside the entrance of the church where I was going to cast my vote. On the truck was a big sign that said, “Vote for Gates.”

I shook my head.

“She just doesn’t get it,” I told my wife.

I've had the pleasure of meeting with the KDM editor a few times over the last year or so. Real good guy, definitely a stand up guy that backs his word when he gives it. I'm sure his job is stressful and he feels pressure to produce a good product.

However, in a short two year period his tune has changed. Here's a bit from last Sunday's op/ed that he wrote...

I used to believe that the vocal opponents to growth were always on the right path, but now I wonder. I look at Kingman and the surrounding area and think, why hasn't this community grown like other communities? Where are the water parks, where are the Best Buys and Targets and Dillard's, where are the arts centers and theaters and places for kids to hang out and have fun? Why are there patches of empty desert all through Kingman, why are so many streets unpaved, and why are so many people so pissed off all the time? I came from communities of like size, Cheyenne Wyo., and Grand Junction, Colo., and both had problems, but both have malls (real ones where you walk inside) and both have continued to grow. As needs arose, those needs were met. Why not here?

The editor goes on to say that because two developers shook hands a new chapter in Kingman has begun. What if the two men hadn't posed for that photo opportunity?? Would the future still look bright all of a sudden, and would the editor look forward to being part of that future as he indicated last Sunday??

Kingman didn't need two men to shake hands and settle their legal differences about business between the two of them. Let's not forget that the local guy told us all that the out of town guy was a 'crook' and a threat to our area... that is... until he got what he wanted. Sorry, I don't buy all the assurances he supposedly negotiated for either when neither him or any of the other folks in the room have ever been elected to negotiate on behalf of Kingman and Mohave County. If those assurances were negotiated on for the city then where is the public record of the entire agreement??

What about the community?? When does it get what it wants?? You know, like some of the things the editor mentioned above.

Plenty of people fought against the future of Kingman for the last few years and now I think after this series... we've seen the major examples of who those person's and interests are. Now it is time for the editor and his staff to turn the magnifying glass on those, and others, that fought hard against our "very bright future".

Fellow REALTORS in the sports pages...

I'm just linking a couple of article from the KDM covering a couple of citizens that happen to be in the real estate business.

First... Chuck "Mr. Basketball" Casson. Mr. Basketball is the broker of the Century 21 Highland office. The office is basically right next door from my office. I bother the guy at times when important issues arise at the Association and community. He is probably a better basketball player and referee than he is a shortstop in softball. I've learned that the hard way... if you are unfortunate enough to hit a grounder in his direction, his throw to first has a tendency to wander towards the runner trying to reach first base... as I've found out on two occasions. Of course the errant throws may not have been so errant, they may have had a purpose.

Next is Kingman High School boys soccer coach Roy Sparks. I've known Roy for about 5 or 6 years now. I mostly catch up to him at events like REALTOR golf in the summer months. He had told me that he played soccer on some professional level at one time, and it sounds like he has made a positive impact with the team he coaches now. Cheers to Roy and his team.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Public/Private partnership deal struck...

From today's paper... link here...

After 33 months of staff work, the new jail for Mohave County was approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

It took 33 months to come up with a solution for this county to get a new jail. Quite a bit of time I'd say. The jail itself is not all that important to me, it is NOT a place that I'd like to be a resident in at any time.

However, what was important is how the county figured out a way to get this done. Prepare yourself.

The building is expected to cost the county around $74 million.

That's quite a bill.

Around $25.5 million will be paid up front with funds from the county's quarter-cent sales tax.

Well then... who is paying the rest of the bill?? Wait for it...

The remaining $48.5 million will be financed through a lease-to-own agreement with the builder/developer of the facility, FaulknerUSA.

What?? A public/private partnership??

Faulkner will sell Beneficial Investment Certificates to cover the upfront cost of the building. The certificates are sold to investors, who are essentially purchasing part of Faulkner's lease agreement with the county.

The county will pay back the certificates by using sales tax revenue.

Read the rest of the article as there is some contentions made by one of the County Supervisors worth looking at... but at the end of the day...

The upside to such an agreement would be that the county would not have to foot the upfront bill to build the jail and it would not have to staff the jail. This could save the county money, which could be used to build a new courthouse.

County Manager Ron Walker said he didn't know of any company that would give a jail away for free.

The Board then moved to approve the new jail.

This new jail belongs to the county and the citizens that reside. We are paying for it, but it took a public/private partnership to get to a favorable conclusion.

I've heard that something similar is being off handedly considered by a different interest in Kingman. I say off handedly because at this point there are no official and public considerations being made at this time. The proposed project wouldn't be for a place for people that break the law and need to serve time. The proposed project would likely bring jobs and other opportunities to Kingman.

I've even heard that the proposed project could bring other amenities such as shopping and entertainment choices that folks in Kingman just don't have at the moment (reduced to spending 3 bucks a gallon to satisfy those choices in other communities).

Heck, I've even said that the proposed project would bring improved public safety and convenience qualities to our so called quality of life issues.

Heck, some even think that such a proposed project could increase the value of our resident owned 168 acres of property in the area of this project. An increased value that could turn into even more opportunities for the great people here in Kingman.

It is a great concept... one that seems to have caught on everywhere else... including our neighbors in the county. One that should be considered right now at this very moment. Why?? If it took 33 months for a jail, it is going to take quite a bit time for new and badly needed infrastructure.

Now is the time.

Turn Back the Clock (op/ed #2)...

More from 2006 and the coverage before the primary...

Kingman needs an official who will watch its water supply


Marvin Robertson
Marvin’s Window

I sat bolt upright in bed when the loud engine started near the bedroom window.

I looked out my window at a huge water drilling rig punching a hole in my Kingman backyard for a well.

I woke up when my wife threw cold water in my face to end my nightmare. That ended the stream of nasty language erupting from my mouth.

“You never swear,” she said excitedly. “What in the world were you dreaming about?”

“Someone was drilling a well in our backyard,” I said. “Some Las Vegas developer’s sign was on the rig.”

It was only a nightmare but could become reality if the local citizens, city officials and county supervisors do not wake up soon.

So what was a nightmare could become reality?? Really?? Did it?? No, and it never will. This op/ed writer wanted us to believe that an out of town developer would pull up one night, to this man's house, break into the backyard and begin drilling a well for water. Nice propaganda imagery though.

While this op/ed writer is no longer affiliated with the KDM, he is still very active in the community. He has gone on to the other local paper, The Standard, and his op/ed's and views from his windows can be found in the weekly publication. Oh... and he also went on to help form and become a proud 'founding member' of Residents Against Irresponsible Development (RAID).

But the color of the language here in this column and others, in my opinion, started the war against development in the Kingman area. Call it a battle cry. Neither Mr. Robertson or the other members of RAID have been able to articulate what the 'irresponsible' means... even when pressed.

Are you aware of anything Mayor Gates and the current City Council have done to limit growth or to save our future water supply?

Someone did have the foresight to look out for the citizens of Kingman and assure a water supply that will be adequate unless the city and surrounding area continues to grow at this insane rate.

Growth was a good thing when it was happening. Many in the community were better off for the growth. Lot's of people were making more money on more opportunities. The attitude of the op/ed writer and the resulting formation of so called 'watch-dog' groups like RAID helped squelch even more opportunities. It was even more unbelievable when local developers joined the likes of RAID to jump on the bandwagon to say that the interests looking to bring more opportunities to Kingman were 'scoundrels' and 'crooks'. Now, today, we are seeing business suffer and job losses, and good people moving out of the area. Good people that could have worked and lived in Kingman, raise families, and be true stakeholders in the community.

Is this what they wanted?? Cause this is what they got.

Now someone else is taking up the water issue for us. The Arizona Corporation Commission is stepping in to stop the formation of water companies to serve these huge developments. The ACC has held previous meetings in Dolan Springs and Chloride on water issues and does have a sense of the problem. The proposed White Hills housing is just across US 93 from these cities.

I thought the ACC's job was to find whether or not a corporation and its officers were 'fit and proper' enough to be a corporation in Arizona. The ACC is not there to 'stop' water companies from serving huge developments. Say anything to scare the begeezus out of people even to the point that some extremists think that we won't be able to get water out of our tap in a few years.

(BTW, the fishing report in today's paper says that Lake Mead has risen 6 feet so boat launching is not a problem at places like South Cove)

I bet our pro growth mayor and Council have made no plans for financing the city when the building boom goes from the 1,000 houses in 2005 back to the normal growth of 200 houses.

The bust always comes. I saw it three times in the decade of the 1980s in Phoenix.

Is that the future Gates calls a “Better Perspective.”

Yep, here the man was right. The tough market is here and has been in effect since he typed those words. But funny that he mentions seeing a 'bust' no less than three times in the 1980's. That must have meant that the opposite of 'bust' took place at least a couple of times in that timeframe. And also, today there are more people living in the Phoenix area now then there was in the 80's. Don't let these facts get in the way of a good rant against the benefits of growth for an emerging community though, right??

City attorney Bob Taylor on Friday joined the stream of top level employees being forced out of city employment. I suspect Taylor got tired of being put on the spot for decisions that would give legal cover for some elected officials to skirt the edge.

The first move of Mayor Gates and Vice Mayor Tom Spear was to sack city manager Roger Swenson. It seems the second move was to buy matching sports cars.

I imagine a good city staff works under daily fear of being the next one out the door.

In my opinion, Swenson was fired because he would not “fire at will” and stood on principle. The loss of so many good people cannot be positive for city morale.

One of the good features of a democracy is the next election comes quickly and voters get a chance to have their say.

Vote Tuesday.

Pretty funny how attitudes change in two short years. Mr. Robertson is part of RAID and that group and others prominent voices are calling for the dismissal of department heads and other city staff and have done so over the last year. How is that going to be for 'morale'??

Vote March 11th. Vote for a different mentality though, one that wants to bring jobs and opportunities back to Kingman.

The next bit is almost too precious to share from the almost two year old op/ed.

Window Pain

Newer citizens of Kingman often ask why Western Avenue was not extended under I-40 at the time the freeway was built. The only structure near the Stockton Hill interchange at the time was the hospital. A dirt road ran from Andy Devine at City Cafe to what we now see as a traffic snarl. The hospital owned the land where Wal-Mart was located.

I suspect the I-40 bypass of Kingman with an interchange at Route 66 and at US 93, one on each end of town seemed excessive at the time.

Isn’t hindsight always better than a crystal ball?


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Turn Back the Clock (op/ed #1)...

As promised, more coverage from the last election. This time from the op/ed page not the Editorial Board.

Link to op/ed here.

Inspections, water tanks and an election


Lorin McLain
Last Call

I'm not including the bit about inspections and moving on...

And the water tank – what’s the deal with the water tank?

Word I got from the city manager is that developers fronted (money) for part of it and others building out there will pay for the remainder as they need to hook up with the city’s system.

The money to pay for it is not coming out of your water bill.

Like I said, this will be a 'fair and balanced' retrospective. I copied this only to point out the novel concept of developER's paying for developMENT. I think it points to probably the redundant need of 'impact' fees when -- and if -- the developER's are doing things like taking on extra risk to get their project going.

Plenty of scuttlebutt about the water tank issue a couple of years ago and I'm not going to seek out links to those articles for this series of posting. But hey, the gist is the community got a water tank to help serve a growing area with more growth headed in that direction.

As far as the election goes … don’t look to me to endorse anybody.

That seemed like a popular attitude during the last election.

All I can say is I hope voters have the brains to look at the facts when voting. I know everybody’s mad as hell about being hung up on Stockton Hill Road. I find it precarious, but I grew up in a metropolitan area. There’s a Stockton Hill Road every direction you turn down a major intersection.

If your voting based on your experience of driving down Stockton Hill Road, I don’t think the current Council has much to do with the inconvenience. If you want to blame anybody, blame whoever designed the thing for having terrible foresight.

There is more traffic on Stockton Hill now than there was two years ago, in my observation. There is good times to use the road, and really tough times. For me, it is not about getting rid of the traffic on the main road connecting the north and south sides of town, it is simply about offering a different alternative... another avenue to connect the north and south side of town... preferably sooner than 2014.

I have no comment on the (Airway) underpass.

My only comment is that it will be more efficient if there was access to the Interstate somewhere close around there.

In my opinion, the town’s growing, builders got to build, make them pay for it, and move on.

Reduce or drop impact fees so developers/builders don't have to pay for it (growth) twice and we are probably good to go. Please note, the impact fees were not in effect at the time this article originally was published.

Turn Back the Clock...

I've heard from many that the Kingman Daily Miner is at it again this political season. I won't be giving my opinion as to what the 'it' is that the KDM is at 'it' again during this political season. Why?? Because while you will be risking being bored to death by what I am writing, I would most certainly be risking the all important endorsement of said publication (not much of a risk though with the way they are painting the profession of Realtor these days in the op/ed pages). I might have a few questions though along the way.

I simply thought it'd be fun to take a look back to see what has changed... if anything.

First up, the editorial board review of the three mayoral candidates from before the last primary election the city held.

Board sees good, bad in all 3 candidates


We choose … more choices. After sitting down with the mayoral candidates in this year’s local election, the Miner Editorial Board could agree on only one thing: We wish others were running.

About a month ago, we asked Mayor Monica Gates, former Mayor Les Byram and candidate Terry Thompson to sit in front of our board and answer questions which we considered key in the upcoming mayoral race. We asked each the same questions and published their responses on Jan. 29, so readers could judge each on an even playing field.

Well one thing that pops out at me is that during the last week of January this year, the KDM was holding the Editorial Board reviews of the candidates. According the editorial from the editor on Sunday, KDM readers will not get to see the candidates responses until the latter part of next week... less than two weeks before the election. Also the Editorial Board will not make it's 'take' on the reviews known until the Sunday before the election. As you can see from above, the Editorial Board's 'take' was published two years ago yesterday, a little more than three weeks to go before the election.

Now... some of their 'take' from the last election...

While we were impressed with Gates’ knowledge of the issues facing Kingman, we were not satisfied that she truly wants to improve the quality of life for residents that currently call Kingman home. Her track record over the last two years must be considered, and while she has spearheaded beneficial changes in how the city functions, she has also alienated average citizens by allowing, even encouraging, massive housing developments that could seriously alter Kingman’s future … and not for the better.

I'm wondering what 'massive' housing developments were approved that were so bad for Kingman then and continue to be negatively altering Kingman's future.

Folks, new growth and construction are the mainstay's in our local economy. As we have seen for ourselves, all the hate against development has only led to job losses in the community and a decrease in revenues for the city. It is legal to subdivide, create sub-divisions and developments, and acquire permits for construction. It is legal to go through these steps and be subject to due process of the applicable laws and public input.

Now we should be reminded that developments, both residential and commercial, are subject to market forces. Markets are never wrong and always right. Most developers I know (including the ones running for office in Kingman on the ballot right now) happen to know this little factoid. And as a result, it is unlikely that any of those developers would build massive developments unless they thought they could sell their product in the market. Who takes the real risk in developing??

Then there’s the massive growth. Gates has shown that she is a developer’s best friend, throwing out the welcome mat for any big, out-of-town builder who wants to make millions of dollars off Kingman. As captain of the Kingman ship, amendments to the voter-approved General Plan have been the norm, not the exception. Thousands and thousands of homes have been OK’d with little consideration given to infrastructure and water constraints that even the most dim-witted Kingmanite knows must be taken into account before more people come to our area. Gates tells us to not worry about it. Well, we’re more than worried. We’re fed up!

How is that massive growth working out again?? How many new homes went up in Kingman the last two years?? 50,000?? 100,000?? 'Big' and 'out-of-town' are adjectives that are supposed to create fear and worry. We know that this passage is directed at a certain Las Vegas developer that has built zero homes in his grand master planned community that isn't even within the city limits of Kingman.

And ah yes, the General Plan thing again. Yep, voters approved it in 2004, well 10% less voters that voted on other issues on the same ballot did. They voted on a plan that CAN be legally amended. The General Plan is what it says it is... a plan... not marching orders. Plans alter based on change and change is constant.

If the Editorial Board was fed up in 2006, they must be pleased this time around as there was only one Major Amendment made to the General Plan in 2007... and the local activist group KDM covers the most, RAID, supported it.

Former Mayor Les Byram touted all the improvements made while he was at the helm of the city, and it’s impossible to dispute his commitment to this community. We are just not sure Byram would move Kingman forward, especially because he’s so focused on the past. He seems to want to turn back the clock to two years ago when he lost to Gates, and we fear that his attention will be on reversing many of her moves instead of creating ways to improve where we are at now.

Well... I'd say The Editorial Board may have got this one right, but I don't blame the mayor myself for the lack of forward movement since 2006.

Let’s face it, Gates inherited most of the problems she has been required to contend with the last two years. Traffic was bad then, roads were a mess, and there was no funding plan to improve either. Byram ran this city for the eight years prior, so it’s hard to believe that these infrastructure problems will be improved under his management. Neither he nor Gates has supplied us with a plan to improve traffic, especially on Stockton Hill Road, and Byram was the mayor when many of these businesses set up shop there. The Council was not thinking ahead then. How can we expect anything different if Byram returns to the hot seat?

Let's face it, traffic stinks now, roads are still roads (it is the road system that really needs improving), and thanks to some local interests and local activist groups there is no funding to help improve what was the Editorial Boards gripes two years ago.

Terry Thompson is a newcomer to politics and would bring a fresh approach to the Council … and he’s not a banker or developer, a good thing, since the current Council is loaded with them. We were excited to talk with him about his vision for Kingman’s future. We are still trying to figure out what that vision entails.

No... Mr. Thompson was not a banker or developer... he was/is a business owner in Kingman. I missed the memo I guess, what professions are on the list of acceptable pursuits in order to run for office in Kingman??

Thompson talked about building a consensus in the community. On paper, that’s a grand plan, however, in reality, it’s about impossible, especially in a city that has so many different types of people with different interests and desires. The Board feels that Thompson would take too long to get up to speed, and Kingman would suffer because of it. We would like to see Mr. Thompson run for a Council seat before taking on the top spot.

Building consensus is not an impossibility, at least in my opinion. It is something that the city leaders should be working on constantly. While it continues to appear to be a long-shot to do the consensus building, the effort is not being helped along by the most prominent and persuasive voice in the community... the one that buys ink by the barrel... the one that seems to imply that they are the voice of the community.

I feel compelled to ask, as the latter part I emphasized seems to indicate, if the current Editorial Board will use the same standard in any recommendation they may make this time around for candidates seeking that office?? Specifically does this still apply to a business owner that has never served the public before?? Should that type of candidate run for a 'minor league' position like City Council as the last Editorial Board seemed to imply??

If nothing has changed from the Editorial Board perspective, I think we are left to assume that once again the KDM won't be able to make a recommendation as to who they think would be a good fit for the office of Mayor. Our choices for mayor this time around are a business owner with no public leadership experience, a developer, and a former mayor. Sounds so two years ago... doesn't it??

I'll be posting some of the 'fair and balanced' op/ed pieces from two years ago shortly. After looking back, maybe we'll see if those op/eds had any influence on the last election.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I was asked...

... so I will answer.

There has been one citizen that has been writing email and calling me with the most frequency since the campaign began. I appreciate his tenacity in getting answers to what he feels are important questions as he decides who he may be voting for. His latest question is one that I thought I'd share my answer publicly by posting it here on MOCO.

I am leaving the state for the week end but your reply to how you will fund KC interchange is critical. Answer when you get caught up.

My reply follows...

This will have to be a two-part answer to the question.

The first answer is easy, if the developers on the north side of Kingman Crossing are so insistent on an interchange that will bring Interstate traffic to their development then they can pay for it. When only private funding is used, the developers can use the design/build method of construction and it will save them millions of dollars. I believe that if the developer wanted to provide this infrastructure and allow for access to the north side only, they should be supported to do so.

The developers shouldn’t be expected to grant access to the south side off the Interstate if they are paying the bill with no expectation of reimbursement or other means of public financing in return for their efforts. (To me all along, I've got the feeling that the developer is more interested in getting traffic from the Interstate to their project, not so much has been said about catering to the needs of the residents on the south side. Even the new hospital project underway has been quoted as saying they don't need the interchange to move forward)

Now that leaves future access to the south side up to the property owners on that side of the Interstate, those owners are the city of Kingman and the state of Arizona. The community can decide later on in the future if they’d like to have that access and could do something about it (i.e. pass bonds, set up improvement districts, or something else that puts the weight of the cost on the residents of Kingman).

Now for part two of my answer.

Since the beginning of the talk about an interchange at Kingman Crossing, I’ve felt that the biggest benefit to the community that would come from that interchange would be public safety and convenience. I am specifically speaking about traffic flows. A complete interchange that allows for full access with north and south egress and ingress would provide alternate routes for residents in most parts of Kingman and the surrounding area. We are seeing a hospital go in at the new development, and access that might save some lives of residents in the southeast part of Kingman will be impeded without the fully built out interchange. Other forms of emergency response will also be improved with the new access this proposed project can produce.

This is why I don’t have a problem with having a sit down with a party with a funding source to see if that funding source would be willing to provide all the funding up front with some promise to repay at a later time. Not only that but put the onus of risk on that funding source instead of the taxpayers in the community. Public/private partnerships offer the foundation for such things.

You asked how would I fund the project, well in this manner my best guess and favorable support would be to pay back or reimburse the funding source out of realized net add gains to the bottom line of sales tax collection. There are literally multitudes of ways to accomplish this, but the tough part would be in the details of any future negotiation of course. The following is what I’d consider a favorable way and one that I would seek if elected to the office of City Council.

The first thing that has to happen, according to state statute, for this kind of development agreement with a municipality is to have the city pay for a feasibility study. The economist that is hired to perform this function would investigate the potential revenue gains that would be uncovered by the scope of the project. This study would be the basis to use to begin negotiations between the city and the developer. This feasibility study could possibly even tell us all up front that the developers project wouldn’t create an increase in sales tax enough to warrant moving forward with this type of agreement. If that ends up being the case, the developer would be left to my answer number one -- pay for what they think they need on their own dime with no expectation of pay back.

I’m going to assume that this kind of study does in fact show a substantial net add in revenues. I’ll keep the numbers simple for this. Let’s assume that Kingman currently draws $100 total in sales tax returns from the current situation. Now the feasibility study comes back and says that if this project goes through and is successful that the projected return of revenue will mean that Kingman draws an additional net add of $10 a year (a new grand total of $110 dollars). Now both sides (the city and the developer) would have a basis to begin working towards an agreement in my opinion.

I would only be interested in reimbursing the developer for the up front costs of the infrastructure out of the net add revenues generated… in other words the additional $10 a year. Maybe $5 dollars of those $10 dollars a year is enough for the developer to accept for repayment. Maybe the city feels that reimbursing for the project should happen as fast as possible and decides to give all of the net add back to the developer until the cost is fully repaid. That would be a decision that the community should weigh in on… but only if we all get that far. Otherwise the project goes back to my answer number one.

I talk about shifting risk onto the developer and for this next part of the negotiation the city can do exactly that. Once again we will use my simple example from above, but we will assume that we are repaying the costs to the developer at $5 dollars a year. The agreement can be benchmarked that if ever the net add revenues do not exceed the $5 dollars, then the city does not have to cut a check that year for reimbursement. Now if an agreement cannot be reached at this point because the developer won’t take on the bulk of the risk, then the project goes back to my answer number one.

Now another consideration that would have be agreed on is what portion of the project would the city of Kingman reimburse the developer for IF the project is completely built out granting full access to both the north and south side off the Interstate. Some folks will want to reimburse only for half. As I stated earlier the full project would enhance public safety and convenience needs of the community. I believe the entire project (the infrastructure) belongs to the community and therefore if a party agreed to fund the entire project up front then this community would need to fully reimburse the funding source. After all, none of the funding would be coming from additional taxes on the Kingman resident. No sales tax percentage increase, no implementation of a property tax, and no bonding that lays the risk entirely on the community.

A fully built out interchange at Kingman Crossing also enhances the resident owned 168 acres that makes up the greatest economic asset that belongs to this community. The value of that land would increase significantly and could ultimately lead to many other benefits to the residents. It would also increase the value of the state owned land further to the south of the Kingman property and developers would have to pay a higher amount to acquire that property if they so desired for other future development. So in my opinion, the project is worth paying for fully and I believe that the infrastructure is our liability… but a liability that doesn’t carry all of the risk.

I can understand that all of this is based on assumptions, but the only reason they are assumptions right now is because the city and the community is not having meaningful discussions and working towards conclusions and solutions. I’m not worried that the critics will say something negative about my assumptions as some local voices have already made their own assumptions without even considering anything else. If the voters really want to have someone looking for real solutions, while at the same time clearly communicating the findings, and at the same time protecting the community – then I will be elected to serve for the next four years. If the voters choose others that have made negative assumptions based on zero data taken from zero discussions then I believe the community will be buying misguided hype based on zero facts.

What do we collectively know as facts right now??

The city had a plan to sell the 168 acres of Kingman resident owned property to partly pay for not one but two major infrastructure projects. The results of the November 6 election last year pretty much squashed those plans.

So since then the facts are…

A developer is proposing to the city a new interchange off of I-40 at Kingman Crossing. The developer approached the city about the possibility of pursuing a reimbursement type of development agreement. And as the Looney Tunes would appropriately say… “And that’s all folks”.

The next step of course is to get a feasibility study done. It will cost less than the actual INCENTIVE the city paid to Chrysler for some jobs in YUCCA and potentially the feasibility study could lead to returns back to this community many times greater than the Chrysler proving grounds EVER will. Again, we won’t know until we take the next step.

To me, at least, it sure beats waiting a year or longer before actually doing something.

I hope your out of town trip went well.


Todd Tarson

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Help my wife... please

Many of you know that my wife is a bit crazy (she married me so there you go), so the following should not surprise those that do.

You may recall that I moved from the warm sunshine of Arizona to the bitter cold of Minnesota last September. Well...

I'm taking the PLUNGE! That is, the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics. The temperature here often falls below zero...yes, that's pretty darn cold, but I'm doing it and I'm inviting you to join spirit anyway.

I want you to be with me as I take the plunge on February 23rd in Lake Lac Lavon in Burnsville, Minnesota. They will have to break through the frozen surface..can you imagine! Please let me plunge on your behalf. Join me by making a donation. Any amount is gratefully appreciated, but I can promise you blessings ten-fold relative to what you contribute, so please be as generous as you can be. Oh and by the way, write in your own donation don't want to select from the options listed on the site.

Thanks for your contribution to support this very special cause.

I'll leave you with this quote... "But by the grace of God, there go I"

Thanks, and always there for YOU!


So of course I'd like to see who would be willing to help out. To make things interesting, I will post photos and/or video (we know there will be photos, not sure about video as of yet)... IF... ONLY IF... the fine readers here at MOCO and the residents of Kingman raise $500 towards the cause.

This will be your one chance to see my wife in a swimming suit of some kind (she has already stated that she will not be in a bikini so don't go there and I'd be a dead man if I ever posted any other type of swimming suit photo of her on this blog or anywhere else on the Internet).

So click on the link above and leave her a comment that you are either a reader of MOCO or are from the Kingman area when you make your donation.

When you click on the link, it takes you to a main page. From there click on find a plunger on the left hand side. Then select the February 23rd event that says 'South Metro'. A drop down menu will appear and use it to scroll down to find the name of 'Gail Tarson'.

The funds raised will go to help the Special Olympics. Thanks for your consideration.

Remember, get those donations in quick and the next photo of my wife will be of her with less clothing on with snow and ice in the background.

Just repsonding...

The Friday edition of the KDM was great, especially the opinion page.

Included on the opinion page was a piece from RAID's spokesperson, Mrs. Gillman. Let's see what she has to say shall we??

C-1 expansion: Here it comes again

Gwen Gillman
Just Thinking

On Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Mohave County Administration Building (700 W Beale St), the city Director of Planning & Zoning Gary Jeppson is holding a "public hearing" to bring to the public his new "improved" C-1 (Neighborhood Convenience) zoning which adds approximately 31 new permitted uses.

I wish that I could attend, but it looks like I'll have to catch the video on this one.

While some of these uses are practical and probably necessary, others push the envelope as far as what residents really would like to have next to them as their new neighbor, i.e., restaurant with drive-thru window (fast food, open late-type business), or passenger transportation/transit center (taxi or bus hub?).

I thought RAID was up in arms about tattoo parlors?? Now it is the scourge of bus hubs... okay. Where will the goalposts be moved to next??

The following are the new uses permitted that Mr. Jeppson wishes to add: art schools/art supplies; assisted living and nursing home; bakery; bank/S&L/credit union; bookstore (except adult bookstore); construction security trailers during construction; fitness center/health club; food stores/pharmacies; freestanding ATMs; golf course; group home for not more than 10 residents; hardware; houseware/furniture/household appliances; laundry/Laundromat/dry cleaners; locksmith; lodge/civic club/fraternal organization; mail order/catalog; musical instrument and music supply; office supply and stationery supply; parks/playgrounds; print and copy center; public colleges; recreational buildings; restaurant (no drive-thru windows); swimming pool/spa; tennis and swim clubs; veterinary clinic/small animal; video rental (no adult videos)

Where are the tattoo parlors?? I thought the city was going to force those on our fair neighborhoods. Anyway...

As a homeowner, ask yourself if you would like some of the above uses near your home.

As a homeowner, yes I would like some of the above uses near my home.

I also wonder what is meant by near?? You see what I consider 'near' my home already are things like banks, fitness centers/health clubs, food stores, hardware stores, ATM machines, parks and playgrounds, restaurants, and some kind of weird animal store. Many of those things were put in after I began living in my residence too. There are other 'neighborhood' conveniences where I live as well, and it just so happens to be convenient for me because of the convenience.

Some of them would obviously create more traffic in or near your residence.

I can't think how any one of those items on the list provide would create more traffic 'in' my residence.

Then, if the above additions aren't bad enough, Mr. Jeppson wants to add the following uses if the City Council approves them as "Uses Which May Be Permitted By Conditional Use Permit":

All other retail; amateur radio antennae; animal boarding (small animals, no more than six); auto rental; community centers; fuel station (no repair and service); library; mixed-use housing; museum; passenger transportation/transit center; performing arts center; post office (public & private); pet shop/grooming; public assembly facilities; public parking; restaurant with drive-thru window; restaurant with beer and wine service; schools with K-12 curriculum.

Oh the humanity. Where are the tattoo parlors??

Now that, folks, is a list.

Indeed it is.

This project has been on-going between Jeppson and the National Arizona Building Association for months. One Residents Against Irresponsible Development member was invited to attend when RAID heard about the meetings and objected to the scope of the zoning additions. But, this final list was more extensive than anything we thought homeowners were prepared to approve.

'We thought'?? Nice. Based on what?? Polling??

Please... while I respect their citizen right to speak on issues, RAID shouldn't be acting like nothing progresses or changes unless 'they think' it is allowable to do so... or they have a referendum petition signed with the required amount of signatures. They are a political action committee... not elected leaders.

So, if you are OK with these lists - then don't attend this meeting.

So, are you saying that if the majority of residents in Kingman don't show up at this meeting then we are free to assume that the majority of residents in Kingman are 'OK with these lists'??

Cool, I'll cast my vote of 'the list doesn't bother me all that much' when I'm in Havasu next Wednesday playing hockey.

But, if you are shocked with the additions that are being brought to a public meeting (and then to the Planning & Zoning Commission and then to City Council), please plan to attend this meeting and/or send a short letter to Mr. Jeppson and the members of the City Council (mail to 310 N. 4th St.) giving them your input.

And then what?? Be ready to sign a petition if things don't go a certain way??

These are your neighborhoods - please protect them by your attendance and your letters to Mr. Jeppson and your City Council.

I happen to know that there has already been spent many hours on this project by city staff and many other volunteers. Months and months worth.

I think it is time for the critics of this proposal to articulate exactly what items on the list that are so objectionable so that some conclusion can be reached (like tattoo parlors for instance). Mrs. Gillman, I simply ask that you work with those folks with your own list and in good faith reach a compromise. Even though you may strongly object to some items (or even all items) on the lists you provided, there were many other regular citizens working with the city that proposed what they felt were positive changes. I personally know many of those citizens and I bet they'd respect what you'd have to say, and you should reciprocate.

Keep in mind that convenience is a demand in today's society (I should know as I'm part of the 'slacker generation' and I've never had to walk uphill to school in the snow both directions). It has been some time since the zoning classifications have been altered. All anyone is doing here is looking how to make some changes that reflect how demand has changed over the course of time.

A compromised solution can be reached, and I know that you can be part of that solution.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Comments on the campaign trail...

I've had the opportunity to speak to many, many voters in Kingman for the upcoming election as a candidate for City Council. While the vast majority of those folks are supportive, I do get a few negative comments and I want to address what those comments are for the readers here at MOCO Real.

I've been told the reason that a person is not voting for me is because I favor tax give aways to any and all developers that wish to develop sub-divisions at will and build an inordinate amount of homes that will never be sold. Okay, the previous loaded sentence is an accumulation of the negative comments directed towards me either in person, at public meetings, or on the Internet. I'll expound.

First of all I admit that I am a Realtor, a real estate agent, and the method by which I generate revenue for my business is if I'm hired by either a buyer or seller of real property and perform a successful property transaction. I find no shame in those facts, and in fact am quite proud of the choice I have made when I decided to start my own business. My business will succeed or fail based on nothing else other than my will to succeed or fail.

COMMENT: Of course Todd is pro-growth because he needs more houses to sell in order to make a living.

No I don't. My business is not predicated on growth and growth alone. While the housing market locally is statistically as bad as I've ever experienced, it does not mean that I still can't carve out opportunities to succeed in my career choice. Even though I reported this month the lowest total sold units of single family homes in a calendar month since I've been tracking data... there were still opportunities for my business to succeed.

COMMENT: Todd will support all new developers at will.

Nope. I couldn't care less about the name of a developER, however I am interested in seeing what sensible and beneficial developMENT can offer the community. There is very little doubt that the city of Kingman is in no position to develop property or even begin to pay for many items listed in the Capital Improvements Plan. The city is simply not generating enough tax revenue to provide all the things on our very long 'wish list' of things most in the community would like to see.

The community is in no position to take on added risk on our own for needs of developER's at this time (for either the out of town or the in town variety of devlopER), and it is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. The community should only be considering adding risk for public services, such as emergency service improvements (and by that I don't mean shacking up brave Kingman Fire Department employees in a single wide on the other side of the tracks downtown like others have suggested in public).

It is apparent that developER's have needs, and guess what?? The community also has needs. Another reality is that developER's have financing, while the community does not have financing to provide for the needs of both developER's and the community. The next logical step is not to wait a year, or two, or longer with the hope that the current situation magically gets fixed, no the next logical step is to have the community and the developER sit down to see if a possible agreement can be reached that is both beneficial to the developER for developMENT and (most importantly) the community for needed developMENT.

I believe that in order to reach such and agreement between a developER and the community is for the developER to take on most, if not all, of the risk involved in producing a beneficial developMENT for all parties involved. This is the foundation of public/private partnerships and communities all over the country, state, and (even in) this county are having these conversations... yet right now in Kingman there are local interests and even candidates running for elected office that are simply not willing to have this kind of conversation for various self interested (instead of community interested) reasons.

The questions that should be asked by the community of the developER's about proposed developMENT's should be along these lines:

Is the developER willing to provide and produce infrastructure for the developMENT??

Will the developER's developMENT provide more opportunities and jobs for the residents of the community??

Will the developMENT create or fill community demand for high quality, and/or environmentally responsible, and/or affordable housing??

Would a new commercial developMENT increase revenues for the city of Kingman (via sales tax dollars) substantially enough to warrant reimbursing the developER for fronting the cost of a major public infrastructure project from the projected and realized net-add revenue increases?? Is the developER willing to take on that risk and enter into such an agreement?? (this last set of questions should be asked of out of town developER's as well as local developER's.)

Why are other candidates and local interests afraid to ask (and answer) these questions??

COMMENT: Todd is in favor of giving away our tax dollars

There are no tax dollars to give away, and there never will be. If Kingman is ever able to right its financial ship enough to find itself in a position with all bills paid and all community needs taken care of... and still comes out with a surplus... I'll be voting to lower the taxes in order to be revenue neutral. The last thing I want to see is any government collecting more money than it needs to provide for public services and public infrastructure.

COMMENT: The 'Paper' says that there is no difference between tax incentives and tax reimbursements as they both 'give' tax dollars away.

The word 'give' has an interesting set of definitions. Here is the definition from the dictionary...

give (gĭv)

v., gave (gāv), giv·en (gĭv'ən), giv·ing, gives.

1. To make a present of: We gave her flowers for her birthday.
2. To place in the hands of; pass: Give me the scissors.
1. To deliver in exchange or recompense; pay: gave five dollars for the book.
2. To let go for a price; sell: gave the used car away for two thousand dollars.
1. To administer: give him some cough medicine.
2. To convey by a physical action: gave me a punch in the nose.
3. To inflict as punishment: gave the child a spanking; was given life imprisonment for the crime.
4. Law. To accord by verdict: A decision was given for the plaintiff.
1. To bestow, especially officially; confer: The Bill of Rights gives us freedom of speech.
2. To accord or tender to another: Give him your confidence.
3. To put temporarily at the disposal of: gave them the cottage for a week.
4. To entrust to another, usually for a specified reason: gave me the keys for safekeeping.
5. To convey or offer for conveyance: Give him my best wishes.
6. Law. To execute and deliver. Used especially in the phrase give bond.
1. To endure the loss of; sacrifice: gave her son to the war; gave her life for her country.
2. To devote or apply completely: gives herself to her work.
3. To furnish or contribute: gave their time to help others.
4. To offer in good faith; pledge: Give me your word.
1. To allot as a portion or share.
2. To bestow (a name, for example).
3. To attribute (blame, for example) to someone; assign.
4. To award as due: gave us first prize.
8. To emit or utter: gave a groan; gave a muted response.
9. To submit for consideration, acceptance, or use: give an opinion; give an excuse.
1. To proffer to another: gave the toddler my hand.
2. To consent to engage (oneself) in sexual intercourse with a man.
1. To perform for an audience: give a recital.
2. To present to view: gave the sign to begin.
1. To offer as entertainment: give a dinner party.
2. To propose as a toast.
1. To be a source of; afford: His remark gave offense. Music gives her pleasure.
2. To cause to catch or be subject to (a disease or bodily condition): The draft gave me a cold.
3. To guide or direct, as by persuasion or behavior. Used with an infinitive phrase: You gave me to imagine you approved of my report.
1. To yield or produce: Cows give milk.
2. To bring forth or bear: trees that give fruit.
3. To produce as a result of calculation: 5 × 12 gives 60.
1. To manifest or show: gives promise of brilliance; gave evidence of tampering.
2. To carry out (a physical movement): give a wink; give a start.
16. To permit one to have or take: gave us an hour to finish.
17. To take an interest to the extent of: “My dear, I don't give a damn” (Margaret Mitchell).


1. To make gifts or donations: gives generously to charity.
1. To yield to physical force.
2. To collapse from force or pressure: The roof gave under the weight of the snow.
3. To yield to change: Both sides will have to give on some issues.
3. To afford access or a view; open: The doors give onto a terrace.
4. Slang. To be in progress; happen: What gives?


1. Capacity or inclination to yield under pressure.
2. The quality or condition of resilience; springiness: “Fruits that have some give … will have more juice than hard ones” (Elizabeth Schneider).
I intentionally placed in bold two of the examples above that probably best fit what the 'Paper' was trying to convey. If I am right, then I believe the 'Paper' needs to finish the story for their faithful readers that are hanging on every word.

The 'Paper' needs to explain why the city of Kingman is placing in the hands of or passing on the tax money to the receiver.


The 'Paper' needs to tell us what the city of Kingman is delivering in exchange or paying the receiver of the tax money for.

Of course this task will be difficult for the 'Paper' to do because there exists no proposed agreement for the city of Kingman to 'give' anything to anyone when it comes to either tax incentives or tax reimbursements. Further... in my opinion the 'Paper' and other local interests have spent some degree of effort trying to convince the community that we shouldn't even explore options such as tax incentives or tax reimbursement agreements.

As a tax payer myself, I'd at least like to know the full story... as in what would I be placing in the hands of or delivering in exchange for exactly?? Maybe I want one of those (whatever it is) and -- if the price is right -- consider making an agreement. I won't know the answer to that though until I know what is on the table... none of us will (and I doubt that anyone would have to sell their soul to reach such an agreement).

COMMENT: Mr. So-and-So is saying that you, Todd, are on the payroll of out of town developers... or you, Todd, your campaign is being financed by out of town developers.

I have been hearing those things said through the grapevine for many months now, and all the Mr. (and Mrs.) So-and-So's making those allegations are wrong and they can't prove that they are right.

However, if there is an out of town developer (or an in town developer) that would like to contribute to my campaign there is still time to do so. Political action committee reports are due by the end of the month for this time period. I'll accept campaign contributions from anyone that wants to see me elected to represent this community for the next four years.

Just remember, I mean it when I say 'Community First'... as you won't find 'Realtor first' or 'developer first' or 'Todd's business first' anywhere in my campaign.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peace in Mohave County among develolpers...

The local version of the Montagues and the Capulets seemed to have settled their differences...


Kingman businessman Scott Dunton says he’s making peace with Jim Rhodes after repeatedly lambasting the Las Vegas homebuilder as a scoundrel and a crook. Dunton was one of the more visible and vocal opponents of the master-planned community that Rhodes hopes to build in Golden Valley and the truce was announced the morning that the Pravada project was to be considered by the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The peace accord was hammered out during an eight hour-long February 12 negotiation session that reportedly ended about eight p.m. The Rhodes contingent included Rhodes, Rhodes Homes Arizona Vice President Chris Stephens and consultant John Gall, while Dunton represented himself along with Don Van Brunt and Travin Pennington.

``I think that the best thing is that the war is over,” Dunton said. ``What they’ve asked is that they just get a chance to start over and that everybody just be friends. The impetus of this is that we’ve got so many things attacking us now between the economy and the foreclosures and maybe if we actually had some positive information coming out of here, and we tried to get along, maybe we can survive.”

Dunton previously pounded Rhodes for a history that included illegal campaign contributions and previous employment of imprisoned “bribesmaid” Erin Kenney. But Dunton told the P & Z Commission that he’s now willing to let what happened in Las Vegas stay in Las Vegas.

``What we’ve agreed to is let’s start fresh today,” Dunton said. And after the meeting, he denied being “bought off” to stop roasting Rhodes.

``On my grandchildren’s lives, not one penny, not one piece of property, not one favor, not one consideration has this man promised me, except that he would honor the contract that he gave me,” Dunton said. The contract involved a Dunton-Rhodes land deal that soured into litigation with Dunton prevailing in court.

Rhodes has ended his appeal of that ruling and parties have settled the dispute. Rhodes will sell Dunton and his partner nearly 5,200 acres in Golden valley for about $5.3-million, minus the more than $100,000 Rhodes was to pay Dunton for attorney fees associated with the lawsuit.

Dunton envisions industrial development of the property that will provide jobs and possible customers for Rhodes’ master-planned community.

Dunton has also agreed to give Rhodes a 1.25 acre Dunton-held parcel that had been carved out of the Pravada development boundary. Dunton said Rhodes also agreed to eliminate a roundabout to ensure high speed access through the Aztec Road thoroughfare that bisects Pravada.

Rhodes has also agreed to offer $400,000 or more if Kingman puts up for auction the six one-acre parcels that the City owns within the Pravada boundary. Furthermore, Dunton said Rhodes would donate six other one-acre sites outside the development that the City could consider tapping for water in the future.

``I think that over the past several weeks, and several days, we’ve worked hard to address Mr. Dunton’s concerns,” Stephens said. ``We hope that this is really the start of being able to bring some healing to the overall community and move forward together in a positive way to bring quality growth to Mohave County.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

50% Chance that Lake Mead dries up

Time to crank up the talk about de-sal plants again on the coast.

A very alarming report was released yesterday from the reputable Scripps Institution of Oceanography about the chances of Lake Mead drying up within the next 14 years.

See article from Scripps here.

There is no doubt that this will play of the fears of people in our area. We've seen Lake Mead drop like a lead balloon over the last 10 years or so. The water concerns here locally are very real. I'm not saying that this report should be taken lightly. However, from this article we should be thinking about solutions.

Water is NOT hard to find on this planet. Technology exists that can turn ocean water into potable resources. Transportation of water is probably still cost prohibitive on a large scale, but now there is a real timetable that faces us all in the southwest region of our country.

There will always be a demand for water resources... and I'm willing to bet that someone or something will supply the demand... but it's likely going to mean paying a higher cost for that resource. Each one of us will have choices to make.

And of course, there is a 50% chance that the findings in the Scripps report are wrong, but I'm not willing to bet on that.