Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bryan Jeffries Says: Phoenix Firefighters Want Pension Reform The Right Way

The Rational Voice of Pension Reform

Granted, it’s a rarity … but every so often a rational voice breaks through all the craziness and name-calling coming from political campaigns.  And when it does, it resonates with people and helps restore our faith in the political process. 
Right now, that voice belongs to Bryan Jeffries.
Jeffries isn’t a political candidate making wild promises he can’t keep.  Nor is he one of the egomaniacs engaged in public posturing to remain in political office.  Jeffries is a firefighter who works for the City of Mesa.  He’s also President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, the organization that represents more than 6,500 firefighters who serve communities all around the state.
What Jeffries is suggesting to help repair the state’s broken pension system is striking a responsive cord with anyone who wants to fix the system the right way.  In other words … 

without raising their taxes.

Jeffries likes to begin by explaining: “Pensions are not ideological issues, they’re math issues.”  Which is a logical place to start.

However, grandstanding politicians are fond of using pension issues to gain ideological leverage with voters – especially the politically conservative ones. That’s when things typically go from bad to worse, because one of two things usually happens: politicians reach a stalemate, so nothing gets done, or the politicos simply make a mess of it.  Senate Bill 1609 comes to mind -- the State Senate’s effort to fix the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) three years ago that turned out to be ineffectual once the courts declared significant features of the legislation unconstitutional.

Doing The Right Thing

Jeffries, a Fire Captain for the Mesa Fire Department, wants Arizona firefighters to take the lead in making the PSPRS sustainable – particularly for future generations.  Unless that happens, the pension fund will surely collapse, which would leave public safety personnel high and dry.

Last week Jeffries told the New York Times that firefighters fear
“something dramatic is going to happen, and they’ll wake up and they’ll have nothing.”  Most public safety personnel, including police officers and firefighters, do not collect Social Security, so the majority of their retirement income comes from the PSPRS.

Saving the pension system will be easier said than done.  But those who know Bryan Jeffries say he and firefighters are up to the challenge.

In order to avoid repeating history by having the courts reject changes in the pension system as unconstitutional, it will require an actual change to the State Constitution.  So Jeffries wants to take the pension issue to Arizona voters in a two-step process. The approval of a constitutional amendment would enable a companion initiative, once approved by voters, to make the necessary changes to fix the PSPRS.

Jeffries isn’t naïve and firefighters aren’t novices in the political arena.  They know that repairing the pension system will be an ambitious undertaking that will take a lot of money and manpower.  But in the long-run it will be worth it.

Jeffries and firefighters’ efforts aren’t only focused on rescuing the retirement fund for their members.  If successful, their campaign will be a lifeline to cities drowning in red ink brought on by a pension system that’s miserably underfunded and, some say, woefully mismanaged.  Employers can’t afford to continue picking up the slack by pouring funding into the PSPRS to keep it afloat.

Biting The Bullet

Continuing to operate under the current broken public safety pension system will force cities like Phoenix to raise taxes, cut services or maybe both to make ends meet.  According to Jeffries, those aren’t options.

However, not confronting the Phoenix pension issue realistically causes all kinds of problems and opens the door for agents of dark money like the Free Enterprise Club to persuade voters to change the system the wrong way.  And that, like so often mentioned on these pages, gives opportunists like Councilman Sal DiCiccio the ability to make political hay with the pension issue.

Of course DiCiccio exploits the most extreme examples of pension benefits paid to a select number of former Phoenix city employees.  But those are the exceptions and not the rule.  For instance, the average pension for public safety retirees is $52,600 a year, verified by the PSPRS administrator.  That doesn’t include the annual 4% cost-of-living (COLA) increases.

To prevent the PSPRS from imploding, Jeffries is proposing things like increasing the number of years public safety employees serve before becoming eligible to collect their pension, increasing an employee’s contribution to the fund and radically reducing COLA increases.  Those are the types of things Jeffries says should be done to return the pension system to being fully funded over time.

But time is of the essence.

Brian Jeffries knows that.  So do Arizona firefighters.  They also know how important it is to fix the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System the right way.

SIDEBAR:  “A Firefighter’s Firefighter”

Ask almost anyone in fire and emergency services and they will all tell you the same thing: “Bryan Jeffries is a firefighter’s firefighter.”

As President of the Mesa Fire Fighters Association, Local 2260, Jeffries had a principal role in what firefighters around the Valley believe has helped make the Mesa Fire Department one of the most respected in the state.  In fact some say MFD is a “model fire department.”

Jeffries, a 20-year firefighter, is a consensus builder.

When the economic downturn hit, Jeffries worked closely with former Mayor Scott Smith and the City Council on salary cuts for firefighters.  Jeffries navigated a political minefield in successfully creating cooperation between city leaders and rank and file firefighters.  No one likes the idea of their wages being cut, and firefighters were no different.  Jeffries served as liaison between the politicians and his members to reach an accord on the cuts.

Jeffries also played a pivotal part in identifying a new staffing model for MFD, instituting a “meet and agree” labor policy with the city’s management and initiating a “community medicine” program run by the fire department.

During a short stint on the Phoenix City Council following his appointment to fill the District 2 seat of Peggy Neely, Jeffries, a resident of northeast Phoenix, was credited with resolving the Sonoran Boulevard (aka “Road To Nowhere”) controversy.  He worked to mediate a settlement between Westcor developers and neighborhoods.  Jeffries’ success in striking a compromise earned him the admiration of all the stakeholders.

Many people both inside and outside the fire and emergency services industry believe Bryan Jeffries is the perfect person to be promoting pension reform.  He’s well liked, respected and, most importantly, trusted.

In a recent newsletter to Arizona firefighters, Jeffries wrote: “While so much surrounding this issue is fuzzy, one point is clear:  The funding level of PSPRS is not good.  If no changes are made, it will be decades before the funding levels return to sustainable levels – if they return.  In the meantime, the system will grow even more expensive for our employers and for taxpayers.  That will lead to service cuts by our employers and make getting raises nearly impossible for current employees.”

Above all else, Jeffries is politically pragmatic.

Randy Pullen Statement on Defamatory Ads from Hugh Hallman in the AZ State Treasurer’s Race

Randy Pullen for Arizona Treasurer
(Phoenix, AZ) — Hugh Hallman has taken the ugly path of personal, deceitful attack ads on television, radio, mail pieces and now, aided by political consultant Nathan Sproul, political signs that are complete lies. 

In truth, these attacks by Mr. Hallman and Mr. Sproul are defamatory and subject them to further legal action. One such TV and radio ad stated that Randy Pullen as Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party in 2011, left the Party in debt $100,000.  

In truth, as reported in filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Party had $86,000 in cash and approximately $17,000 in accounts payable.  After bringing this to the attention of the broadcast companies, Mr. Hallman was forced to take down the ad.

Mr. Pullen commented, “My campaign will continue to focus on the experience and knowledge I bring to the job of as a CPA, and the tremendous support of Governor Brewer, Sherif Arpaio and many other elected officials who trust me to serve Arizona as its next Treasurer. I have not and will not attack either of my opponents in the primary.”
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McClellan Is Another Voice Saying: Scott Smith has been the 'adult in the room' during the primary season

Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.
Guest Commentary by Mike McClellan
Excerpt From East Valley Tribune
And here’s the cool thing about independents in Arizona: We can vote in either state primary. Which means we can prevent the uber-conservative candidates for governor from getting the Republican nomination. This is why I’m voting for Scott Smith on Tuesday. The former Mesa mayor is not perfect, not for me anyway: He edges a little too closely to the SB1070 crowd, though he seems a bit reluctant to do so. And I’m guessing he’s no fan of gay marriage.
But as mayor, at the very least he helped return some mojo to Mesa, a city prior to his leadership that seemed stuck in a permanent funk. And his positions on issues are mostly — except for immigration — sane.
He’s a supporter of Common Core standards, standards that are more rigorous than what we’ve expected of our students. (Yes, I know, Common Core is equated to ObamaCare by some conservatives, but give me a break — the standards are actually good.)
He supported Gov. Brewer’s expansion of Medicaid in our state, which did the miraculous trick of giving more folks health coverage and helping to lower our insurance costs at the same time. He has experience in the private sector and he’s been president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, both of which give him a more complete perspective on what is needed to kick start our state’s economy. And he’s not afraid to tell voters the harder truths about our economy, unlike Ducey, who promises to work to end the income tax in our state but doesn’t quite explain how that can happen without punching a huge hole in the state’s budget.
Smith’s dad was Mesa Public School’s superintendent for years, so he knows the value and the intricacies of public education. And — maybe this is most important — he has differentiated himself from the rest of the Republican field simply by not pandering to the base. The rest of the Republican crew of candidates have been shameless in that, from Ducey’s satellites to Jones’ “bill to Obama” to Thomas’s “Patton line” that apparently will split Arizona into Baja Arizona and the rest of us (Tucson might like that).
Smith has been the adult in the room.
So I will vote for him on Tuesday, hoping enough of the independents show up to do the same, and hoping that enough rational Republicans follow suit.
With Smith as the Republican nominee and Fred DuVal as the Democratic one, we Arizona voters will — with any luck — have a chance to listen to two thoughtful men explain their vision for our state.
Get out and vote. Read Full Article
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.
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Obama Golfs at Martha's Vineyard-Foley's Parents Grieve

Obama hit links after brief statement on beheading of jounalist Foley.
Embedded image permalink

"Free Enterprise Club." attacks Hugh Hallman For Representing Solar Clients At The Corporation Commission.

Corporation Commission approves monthly charge for APS solar users.
Tecnically is taxing the homeowner for having a solar unit.
Hall 2

PHOENIX – The Arizona Corporation Commission on Thursday narrowly approved a charge averaging $4.50 a month for APS customers installing new solar systems, resolving a contentious case over the future of net metering.
APS asked the commission to have solar users pay for access to the grid into which they feed excess electricity and in return receive credit against their bills.
The utility sought a higher amount and opposed the final agreement, a joint proposal from the state’s advocate for residential ratepayers and an industry group composed of several rooftop solar companies. That monthly charge, based on a solar system’s capacity, will be 70 cents per kilowatt starting in 2014.

BEWARE OF DOUG DUCEY: by The Constitution Party

Watching the Elections Back to Watching the Elections Discussions
Will Doug Ducey really be tough on illegal immigration?
I was looking over a list of Doug Ducey supporters and was surprised to see the names of most of the members of the group opposed to HB 2779 in 2007, The Legal Arizona Workers Act, which provided sanctions against employers who knowingly hired undocumented aliens.
This group called themselves the Wake Up Arizona Coalition.
The group was headed by Mac  Magruder, a McDonald's franchises owner and big contributor to Doug  Ducey's campaign, along with:
Steve Chucri who was then president  of the Arizona Restaurant Association and now a member of the  Maricopa County Board of Supervisors;
Jim Click, a Tucson car  dealer and big contributor to the Ducey campaign
Jerry Colangelo
Steve Hilton of Meritage Homes
Gordon James, a public relations firm owner and big supporter of Senator John McCain.
In fact the only members not on Ducey's list of supporters seem to be; Democrat Mary Rose Wilcox, who is running for Congress and Danny  Hendon, owner of Danny's Family Car Washes, who was busted for  hiring undocumented workers and now awaiting sentencing.
If we are  to judge someone by who their friends and supporters are, I would say Doug Ducey will not get tough on illegal immigration but will  be a friend of those hiring undocumented workers.

Bob Haran,
Constitution Party of Arizona.

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Response to your question re Medicaid Restoration: Randy Pullen Candidate for AZ State Treasurer

Dear Mr. Pullen:

Have you supported & championed Obamacare medicaid expansion in Arizona? If you did, then how can you manage the state's resources in a fiscally conservative manner? Being a CPA, I would think you would want the state to balance the budget and keep the state's debt down. Jeff De Wit says his financial background makes him most qualified for the job. Do you think a CPA or an investment professional is more qualified to be treasurer?

Richard Forscutt

Hi Richard,

I appreciate you taking the time to email my campaign. I do not support ObamaCare and never have. I opposed the State Exchange, which is the key to ACA - not Medicaid.  It has been around for 50 years and Medicaid will still be here after ACA is long gone.  That is because America already has decided everyone is entitled to healthcare.  I do not think healthcare is a right guaranteed to all Americans; however, the reality is either they get it through Medicaid or they get it at the emergency room. Medicaid costs you and me a lot less than when they get their care at the emergency room.
With regard to Medicaid expansion, through July, less than 28,000 have signed up under the expansion.  The net savings to Arizona through the first 6-months of this year is over $59 million over last year. So, you see, it is keeping the debt down. A far cry from what conservative think tanks were claiming would happen. Their "models" bore no resemblance to reality.  Not a surprise as they were not interested in reality - only pushing forward their agenda.
As a CPA, I did the analysis and reached the conclusion in 2013 that it would be a financial benefit to Arizona, and it has. What you should expect from your next treasurer - hard facts and the truth. It would have been a lot easier politically to oppose the expansion but that would have been dishonest - not the way I deal with tough issues.

Of course a CPA is more qualified. We do the analysis and understand the flow of business and money.  Investment professionals invest money, and are wrong or right half the time.  Don't forget Washington DC bailed out every investment bank on Wall Street in 2008. Holding a securities license is not a requirement of the job as Treasurer. In fact the CEO of Merrill Lynch, one of the largest trading firms on Wall Street, does not have a securities license.

I served as the Treasurer of the RNC, managing tens of millions of dollars and currently serve as the Treasurer of the Arizona Housing Finance Authority, which has worked with state banks to financed or refinanced hundreds of million of dollars in home loans in Arizona at no cost to Arizona taxpayers.

I would appreciate your support and vote in this election.

Best regards,

Randy Pullen

"Dark Money Group" Free Enterprise Club Uses Pictures of Scott Smith's Home In Attack AD Against Him

Scott Smith for Governor 2014
I just learned that a secretive campaign organization called the Arizona Free Enterprise Club has used pictures of our house in their newest despicable attack ad against Scott.  I’m sure you have been reading a lot about this mystery “dark money group” in the newspapers lately and their dishonest negative attacks on other good men and women.

My home, like yours, is a place where our family should feel safe. It’s a place where we should have our privacy. It’s a place where my grandchildren should be able to play without fear of being watched or photographed.

I don’t know why those who run the Arizona Free Enterprise Club would use pictures of our home in a TV ad filled with misleading half-truths and distortions.  It's hard enough to watch your husband attacked with lies, but downright scary when the ad also carries a very direct message: we know where you live!

I am emailing you today to ask for your help in fighting against the detestable dishonest campaign ads and fear tactics used by organizations like the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and their leaders.

We cannot let people like Free Enterprise Club head Scott Mussi and others willing to lie and cheat steal this election from us and from the voters of Arizona! We must respond and set the record straight about my husband’s successful record as a businessman and mayor.

Please click here now to make your most generous donation.

Mr. Mussi and the Free Enterprise Club plan to spend over $125,000 airing his lies and distortions on television. We must respond by raising $50,000 within the next 24 hours!

Please click here now.

Thank you for helping us fight back against people who would take pictures of our home in an attempt to gain some small political advantage. Our family is grateful for all you have done and continue to do to help elect Scott the next Governor of Arizona.



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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NEWS: World's Top Polo Players Coming To Scottsdale In October; Tickets On Sale For USA's Biggest Event

New Match-ups, New Polo Stars, New Title Sponsor
Top Polo Talent From Around the World to Star at Fourth Annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower
America’s Most Attended Polo Event Returns to WestWorld of Scottsdale on Oct. 25 & 26; Tickets Now On Sale; U.S. Polo Association Joining Festivities
(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) - The first and second times were thrilling.  The third time was a charm.  The fourth time is shaping up to be the best yet.
We’re talking about one of the Valley’s most spectacular social occasions and an event that has gone from a bold experiment in fusing a sport on the rise with a region’s love of exotic cars.  In four years it has become one of Arizona’s signature events and has caught the attention of the United States Polo Association.  We’re talking, of course, about the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower.  And tickets are now on sale, especially for those concerned about getting the best seats available at
From the top college player in the country, the top players in America, the best female polo players on the planet to the only gay polo league in existence, the talent and appeal of the 2014 version of the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships is already shaping up to be exceptional.  And, as always, the event will feature previews of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and Phoenix International Raceway.
It all gets started on Saturday, October 25, when gates open at 11:00 a.m.  The lineup features what will be the top women’s team in the world during 2014 featuring professional female polo players Sunny Hale, Sarah Wiseman and Paola Martinez, and the top professional gay polo player in the world, Caroline Anier (France), on the Women’s World All-Star Team.  Hale is considered the best female player in the U.S., Wiseman (of Great Britain) one of the best in Europe and Martinez (of the world’s top polo country Argentina) one of the best in South America.  They will take on the reigning event champions, the Clogau Wales Polo Team, which last year defeated the U.S. Military Team, and which plays with Princes Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, in a “Battle of the Sexes” match.
Earlier on Saturday the Arizona Polo Club will take on the Gay Polo League team.  The Gay Polo League, based in Florida, is the world’s only organized gay polo league and will be making its first appearance at the event.
An All-Star match between Saturday’s top players will take place alongside the USPA Governor’s Cup on Sunday, October 26, commemorating the United States Polo Association’s decision to hold its Annual Meeting in conjunction with this year’s event.
Sunday’s action will showcase Julio Arellano, the top polo players in the U.S. and Patrick Uretz of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, the top college polo player in the country.  A new addition Sunday will be a memorable brunch in the Rolls Royce Champagne Lounge. Both days will also introduce skills challenges, as occurs at the NBA All-Star Game, before matches commence each day.
“I am extremely excited about participating in such a great event with a wide variety of players,” said Arellano.  “It's a unique idea.  It will be my first polo experience in Arizona.  I can’t wait.”
“It is with great honor that the Clogau Wales Polo Team will return to the Scottsdale Polo Championships to defend the Molina Cup we won in 2013,” said Ricky Cooper of the Clogau Wales Polo Team.  “We have a number of high profile games across the world this summer but none compare with the experience, friends and scale of Scottsdale.  This is an event unrivaled in the U.S., Asia and Europe in terms of attendance and atmosphere and to return really is our pleasure.  Be proud of what Scottsdale has created.”
With a new infusion of polo talent comes a new round of sponsors, as well as some previous ones.  Bentley Scottsdale is the new title sponsor and meshes perfectly with the grace and beauty of the Sport of Kings.  Heineken is also back as the Presenting Sponsor with its “Red Star Corral” that entertains guests before, during and after the matches.
The event will also welcome back the Arizona Porsche Concours d’Elegance, Ferrari and Lamborghini clubs and over 200 impressive versions of automotive horsepower, creating the best Arizona car party until Barrett-Jackson.
A new addition this year will be a “Dog & Pony Fashion Show” with Paradise Valley’s Applewood Pet Resort, and big name entertainment after the matches.
Last November, the Scottsdale Polo Championships drew the biggest crowd in the country for a polo event with approximately 12,442 fans enjoying the four-match showdown at the annual Polo Party.  This year, with an expanded event schedule and an amped-up polo lineup including the sport’s top players and more vendors, more sponsors, and more horsepower, America’s most-attended polo event is expected to draw up to 15,000 polo fans and revelers to WestWorld of Scottsdale.  With the breathtaking backdrop of McDowell Mountains and beautiful white tents lining the field, the Polo Party will again be a weekend destination for both local residents and tourists, and a social event like no other.
Tickets, tables and tents ranging from $15 to $5,000 are now on sale.  For more information please go to


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Doug Ducey AZ Candidate for Governor-Didn't Sell Ice Cream His Business Was Selling Franchises-VIDEO

Doug Ducey "judge me by business experience" Financial statements show that in the years before the sale, Cold Stone's profits were falling even as it was opening stores at a rapid pace.

"They were declining as early as 2004, which is quite ominous," he said. "While the company was able to establish some early growth, it didn't appear the growth was to be sustained."

Documents filed with the California Department of Corporations show Cold Stone's revenue from selling and servicing franchises nationwide more than tripled from 2003 to 2006, to $62 million, while profits plunged 89 percent, to $253,369. 

The average annual sales at Cold Stone stores dipped for three straight years, from $391,700 in 2004, to $354,700 in 2007. As stores were quickly opening, others were closing: in 2004, for every 100 stores that opened, three closed. By 2006, the year before the sale, 28 stores closed for every 100 that opened. Read Full Story on AZ Central
READ: Cold Stone Creamery open letter
RELATED: Opponents question recent Ducey debate absences
RELATED: Ducey uses committee to spread money to other politicians