Suns arena wrap-up

The vote’s over and Talking Stick Resort Arena gets a remodel. Some final thoughts on the matter…

From the outset of the discussions about what the City of Phoenix should do with Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, it seemed like it was a fait accompli that the $230 million remodeling project proposal would pass, despite the posturing and outrage from some on the City Council. And they got their way, passing a deal that, in my opinion, punts the decision on what to do with sports in the Phoenix metro area for 10-15 years and still doesn’t answer any long-term questions about a combined basketball/hockey facility to share with the Arizona Coyotes.

It’s not a secret that I’m against public funds going to fund sports stadia, even if those funds are allocated from some pot of money that’s theoretically not paid by the taxpayers of that city (e.g., hotel taxes). Nothing in law prevents those funds from being used elsewhere (see page 2 of this PDF file).

In the month-long effort of councilsplaining (credit to Neil deMause for that wonderful word) why Talking Stick Resort Arena needed public funds for its remodel, one of the arguments made by the Suns and the City was that downtown Phoenix would be struggling if the Suns were to decamp for other places. Even if you discount that argument as pure absurdity seeing how the Suns only play 41 games at home per year during the regular season and the few other concerts and events happening there, downtown Phoenix still seems to do OK on the remaining 300-ish days.

The Downtown Phoenix of 2019 is far different—and far better—than the downtown Phoenix of 1992, when the then-America West Arena opened. It is starting to become active again not just during the day but at night. Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue are becoming vibrant arts corridors above and beyond the major monthly art walks. All of Arizona’s public universities have major presences Downtown and support biomedical research (ironically, built on land originally assembled to be a new stadium for the Arizona Cardinals). People are choosing to live downtown. And, perhaps most importantly, light rail links downtown Phoenix with some of our metro area’s most important places.

As an advocate for central-city Phoenix, I recognize I’m in the minority opinion on this matter. It was enlightening to see all of the organizations doing their full-court press to pass these subsidies for the arena and to see our councilmembers parrot the talking points put forth.

May Phoenix not become Glendale and have to close parks and libraries just to pay a stadium bond debt.

Pixel 3 exFAT camera importing update

Good news! An update on the exFAT-on-Pixel 3 adventures I chronicled from earlier this week. It only requires the purchase of an app.

Back at the start of this week, I wrote about my issues with not being able to import photos from my standalone Canon DSLR camera to my new Google Pixel 3 XL because the Pixel doesn’t support the exFAT file system natively. I’m happy to say that I have good news and I’ve found a workaround that only requires the purchase of an app.

Before I get into this, I’m just going to write here that your results may vary and that I’m not responsible for any loss of data you may have as a result of this. Be sure to practice good data hygiene and backup responsibly.

My solution hinges on the “Microsoft exFAT/NTFS for USB by Paragon Software” app available on Google Play. Whilst the app is free to download, exFAT support requires a $5.99 in-app purchase. This app is unique in that it’s not a standalone file explorer, it’s an interface mechanism between the USB SD card reader and some other apps, including the default Files app on the Pixel. Here’s how it works:

If the captions aren’t viewable, the steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: After connecting your SD card reader to the USB-C port, launch the Microsoft exFAT/NTFS (etc.) app. Tap on MOUNT. (The UNMOUNT button is shown after the device has been mounted.)
  • Step 2: In the Files app, you’ll see that a new option is there: the Paragon File System. That’s your SD card.
  • Step 3: You can now browse your SD card and copy/move/whatever files from the card to local storage or cloud storage.
  • Step 4: When finished, go back into the Paragon app to UNMOUNT the device. Unplug the SD card reader and you’ll be good to go!

My explorations are still continuing because although I can easily copy-and-paste the SD card files, there is no mechanism that I have discovered so far that won’t copy duplicate files. By default, if you ask the Pixel to copy a file, if it’s a duplicate file name, it will just append a (1) next to the file name before the file extension.

Explorations are continuing! Isn’t that the great part about learning about new technology?

METRO at 10: A WBIYB Retrospective

Today marks the 10th anniversary of METRO light rail’s inauguration. In celebration of METRO at 10, relive the day with some photos.

Ten years ago today (27 December 2008), Phoenix made history. It had opened the first part of its new METRO light rail (WBIYB) connecting many different parts of our community. The initial system was touted to be the starter line of a system that would spread tentacle-like throughout the Phoenix metro area, linking commercial corridors, cultural institutions, residential communities, sports arenas, and educational opportunities to each other.

While the promise of METRO is under attack by reactionary anti-transit individuals upset by the proposed extensions into south Phoenix (my take: Build the damn train!), it’s a system that has transformed our city and tried to make us somewhat relevant in the global city-driven economy.

To mark METRO’s 10th anniversary, here are some photos I’ve unearthed from the archives of the opening day festivities. Phoenicians will also recall that it was also on this day that the new North Building of the Phoenix Convention Center was also opened to the public.

Nine Lessons and Carols 2018

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 2018, the VII installment of a Spotify playlist tradition

Each Christmastide on Spotify, I publish a playlist in the format of the Nine Lessons and Carols, something that we heard earlier today from King’s College Cambridge.

From me to you all, I wish you a happy Christmas with friends and family near and far.

Continue reading “Nine Lessons and Carols 2018”

Friday Five: Midtown Accomplishments

This year marks the conclusion of my service on the Midtown Neighborhood Association Board. In that spirit, I offer five Midtown accomplishments from 2018.

Friday Five Midtown in Review December 2018This year wraps up my tenure as Board President as well as my service on the Board of the Midtown Neighborhood Association. One of the greatest honors I have known in my young advocacy career has been to be President of the Midtown Neighborhood Association Board. In the spirit of looking back, I thought it would be appropriate to outline some of what I think are the biggest Midtown accomplishments that I’ve had a hand in over my tenure as a Board Member and as Board President in these past couple of years.

Let me be absolutely clear that none of these Midtown accomplishments are my own. I was extremely fortunate to work with a dedicated group of Board colleagues that constantly challenged each other to think about what a urban-serving neighborhood association should look like. These accomplishments were made possible because of their commitment to midtown Phoenix. Our Board worked to establish consensus not only on our mission imperatives but in how we decided to execute upon those imperatives.

It is therefore in that spirit (and because it’s been unacceptably long since I’ve rolled out a Friday Five post) that I thought it appropriate to encapsulate what I think are the five greatest accomplishments that I’ve had a hand in as part of the Midtown Neighborhood Association Board.

5. We continued to deepen partnerships with other leadership organizations and leveraged their reach to help the Association’s mission. I think one of the most enduring of these Midtown accomplishments is that we continued to develop and deepen partnerships with other Phoenix leadership organizations. The Midtown Neighborhood Association is a dues-paying member of Phoenix Community Alliance and it was imperative for me to make sure we were engaging that group for all we could. While, at best, we could try to wrangle advertising for our quarterly magazine, The MUSE, or sponsorship for our major events, at worst, we were out in the community showing that we are a force for midtown Phoenix.

4. We were able to use our connections with kindred organizations on a shared advocacy agenda. One of the ongoing issues with central-city Phoenix advocacy is that many organizations have blinders on to only the issues happening in their neighborhoods and missing the greater picture. Top-of-building signage has been a big issue since the owners of the BMO Tower (1850 N Central Avenue) inaugurated their sign. When similar signs were proposed for two towers in Downtown in late 2017, we worked with our partners at the Phoenix Downtown Neighborhood Alliance (PHXDNA) on trying to create guidelines for top-of-building LED signage. As I’ve written previously, the issues that Midtown faces are largely the same as Downtown, and it’s imperative that organizations work together to lift and amplify each other’s voices.

3. We continued on the journey of implementing a committee structure. Like all of these, this one in particular was a joint lift involving many of my Board colleagues. The sustaining idea behind this is that we wanted to divorce Association-related tasks from individual people and put those roles in institutional committees that persist. This is also a great avenue to engage the community in our work! While it was a slow start this year, the foundations have been firmly established and it will only continue to grow.

2. We co-presented The Central-City Phoenix Neighborhoods Mayoral Debate in September. I reached out to my friends and fellow neighborhood organization presidents at Downtown Voices Coalition and PHXDNA to see about co-presenting a mayoral debate that was relevant to issues we face in urban Phoenix neighborhoods. Despite the disruption of fire alarms, we did the only debate on central-city Phoenix issues on 26 September 2018 at Burton Barr Library. KJZZ’s Christina Estes moderated using questions and themes developed by our three organizations’ boards and all four mayoral candidates were in attendance. Unique to our debate, we discussed issues like homelessness, transportation, and what the candidates’ plans were to build consensus in City Hall.

1. Midtown’s on the map. The big announcement for Phoenix in 2018 was that Creighton University is set to build a new campus in Midtown at Park Central Mall. With this campus, thousands of students, faculty, staff, will become a part of the Midtown community. Just as light rail and ASU aided in transforming downtown Phoenix, Creighton’s expansion has the potential to transform Midtown, and especially in concert with the transformation going on at Park Central Mall. As I have said, as Park Central goes, so, too, does Midtown. This is a tremendous opportunity and it’s incumbent on any Midtown leadership organization to be sure to capitalize on this tremendous gift.

Even though my service on the Midtown Neighborhood Association Board is about to come to a close, by no means is this the end of my commitment and dedication to Midtown advocacy! I’ve lived in Midtown now for the better part of 13 years. As 2019 rolls in, I hope to have some announcements to share about the next chapter in my Midtown–and urban Phoenix–advocacy.

There is still a lot to do and an uncertain future ahead of us. Let’s get to work.

The Downtown Phoenix Podcast Archives

The Downtown Phoenix Podcast has a new home for its original eight-episode season.

The Downtown Phoenix PodcastBack in 2014, I worked on a project called The Downtown Phoenix Podcast. While production of new content for the Podcast has been on hold for the past 4 1/2 years, I thought it would be appropriate to put a snapshot of that work on my new website (which, by the way, has a new set of servers hosting it!).

What’s fascinating is that even though we’re nearly five years removed from the production of those eight episodes, a lot of the content is as timely as ever. That was one of the goals of the project: to be relevant whether it’s 2014 or well into the future. It was also an effort to create some sort of serious journalism about central-city Phoenix issues. I had drafted a set of editorial principles to guide the Podcast‘s direction.

A lot of people ask about its future. “Is it coming back?” I certainly hope so! The challenge, as always, is time. I wanted to do a good job on The Downtown Phoenix Podcast and produce important content, which takes a lot of time to do. Fitting in production time into my schedule and my other projects is rather challenging. But if a central-city Phoenix organization is willing to take it on, then I’m willing to chat. I’m even thinking of my own ideas, too!

This was a project that I still remain incredibly proud of and I hope its new home shows that. Click here or on the big blue “The Downtown Phoenix Podcast” button to see it.