And all of what was said in the video may be true.
But what Phoenix’s leaders are forgetting at best (or ignoring at worst) is that this isn’t a competition about Phoenix in 2017 vs. Phoenix just after the Great Recession. Navel gazing doesn’t make our city better; it lets other cities pass us while we congratulate ourselves over smaller accomplishments. It’s Phoenix vs. our peer cities both in the United States and around the world. So it’s not just Phoenix vs. Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, or Philadelphia, it’s Phoenix vs. Melbourne, Brasilia, Johannesburg, Stuttgart, and Osaka. These are all thingsthatI’vesaidbefore.
Let’s deconstruct one of the points of the P.R. piece very serious journalism: that Phoenix is the “next big tech hub.” Again, it may be compared itself a few years ago. But a landmark study commissioned by the real estate conglomerate Cushman and Wakefield, Tech Cities 1.0: An Interactive Look at Metrics and Cities to Watch, Phoenix didn’t make the top 25, despite being the 5th largest city by population and the 12th largest metro area by population. In in a passing bullet point on a piece on Tech Cities 1.0, cities are assessed on the quality of their institutions of higher learning, supply of tech workers, amount of venture capital, skilled knowledge workers, and entrepreneurial growth engines. Phoenix isn’t mentioned except CityLab by Richard Florida: “Phoenix ($269 million), which is not on the chart above, attracted more venture capital investment than Baltimore ($254 million).”
Is it nice that Phoenix is getting attention? Probably. But while attention is nice, we have to remember that we have a long way to go to break even with our peer cities nationally and internationally.
There’s one thing downtown Phoenix needs. Where are our elected leaders on it?
Quick bite for a Wednesday morning: There’s a piece that’s been making the rounds in the downtown Phoenix thought circles about how to get involved in the downtown Phoenix community to make it “suck less.”
First things first: I’m not a fan of solutions journalism, that idea that journalism must always have some sort of solution to it. It just seems like it’s a new approach on feel-good reporting. I guess I’m old-school in the fact that good journalism must cast light to what’s going on. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. So it’s up to us – the public citizenry – to decide what to do with that information.
There’s one fatal problem with that: The premise of Ms Farzan’s article seems to go on the failed notion that downtown Phoenix’s issues are design-related and that a bike lane here or tree there would suddenly cure our urban ills and make our downtown on par with those of Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, or Philadelphia.
As this blog has noted with great regularity, that’s not the case. There are way too many macro issues that are ignored because, well, I’m not sure why. But they all stem back to one thing, something I tweeted about earlier today:
Want #dtphx to suck less? Encourage civic leaders to come up with an ACTUAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN for central-city Phoenix.
That’s the thing that’s missing. And this isn’t a new chorus or refrain of mine.
In 2014, after Sprouts Farmers Market announced their corporate office moving from near Paradise Valley Mall to CityNorth, I wrote in Another Day, Another Strikeout, “What is the economic development strategy for downtown and midtown Phoenix? I fear to ask the next question, but I will: Is there one? I think it’s admirable that we are trying to have lots of incubator spaces and attract individual entrepreneurs but we need to ask: What is their economic impact compared to, say, the Sprouts Farmers Market headquarters?”
In a 2014 edition of The Friday Five suggesting alternate urban talking points (which was in reaction to a feel-good design-focused thing going on that weekend), I wrote, “As we learn of other suburban cities or, in fact, suburban parts of Phoenix, taking jobs and economic development away from central-city Phoenix, we still think about how to make a better design for our streets, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. That’s nice, to be sure, but I still maintain that if we don’t have the economic activity to support those physical amenities, then what’s the point?”
There was a metric I created as well called The Eddie Number. The premise of that is to get a sense of economic headquarters in a downtown area compared to the rest of the metropolitan area. Also in 2014 (yeah, I wrote more back then), downtown Phoenix’s Eddie Number was -11.
So this is nothing new. This has been my common refrain but it’s gone on deaf ears.
Want downtown Phoenix to “suck less”? Get money and civic leaders back downtown.
It’s been 427 days since I’ve last posted. Let’s change that. Here are 5 things that have been on my mind.
It’s been a considerable time since I’ve last posted – 427 days to be exact. That won’t happen again. Anyway, here are five of the many things that have been on my mind in the last sixty-one weeks and will be the focus of the next few additions to this blog…
1. Still thinking about Chromebooks. This one’s fitting since my last post was about Chromebooks and how I’ve been playing around with them. In the intervening fourteen months, I’ve been off-and-on with mine but I’m still using it. It’s amazing to see how much it’s matured over that time period and how well it plays with Windows infrastructure via a Google-provided SMB share connector or a third-party RDP app. VPN connectivity is interesting with it but that’ll be the subject of a future post.
2. HOAs and IT. One of the big projects I’ve been tackling lately is the IT needs for a midrise condominium complex in midtown Phoenix. This will certainly be the focus of many posts down the road for sure; in the meantime, one theme that’s quickly emerged is that communicating technical issues and needs in non-technical terms is a skill that IT leaders need to embrace.
3. Midtown Phoenix. In 2016, I became disillusioned with the state of downtown-centric advocacy organizations and made a conscious decision to focus on the part of the world where I live and work: Midtown. As a means to that end, I’ve been elected to the board of the Midtown Neighborhood Association. August 2017 will mark the 17th anniversary of when I started to observe Midtown and the 11th anniversary of moving here from the suburbs. This renewed Midtown-centric advocacy focus is part of my love letter to Midtown.
5. The Downtown Phoenix Podcast. I know there have been a few false starts of the resuming of The Downtown Phoenix Podcast and that’s frustrated me. This is a project that needs to happen to bring serious conversation to the issues facing central-city Phoenix. I think I’ve identified a couple new individuals who will help in bringing this back. Stay tuned.
The Friday Five for September 26: Some different urban talking points when we consider Phoenix’s urban renaissance.
We love talking about urban design in this city.
As we learn of other suburban cities or, in fact, suburban parts of Phoenix, taking jobs and economic development away from central-city Phoenix, we still think about how to make a better design for our streets, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. That’s nice, to be sure, but I still maintain that if we don’t have the economic activity to support those physical amenities, then what’s the point?
So here I offer five different urban talking points that we should be discussing about in addition to urban design:
2. Downtown Phoenix needs to be family-friendly. This takes many different interpretations. When we think about adding residential density to central-city Phoenix, we can’t just think about studio or one-bedroom apartments for young single people to live in, even if that’s the fastest growing demographic. We have to make sure families with young children can not only live here but thrive here. We need to think about diversity of everything. And that also means making sure that there are opportunities for families to enjoy the same amenities that those living alone enjoy. While I’m glad that there are fantastic restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars in central-city Phoenix, those can be a bit expensive for those who aren’t necessarily independently wealthy or exactly welcoming of families.
3. Quality public educational opportunities for children need to exist. I have heard too many times from new parents who live in central-city Phoenix that when their child needs to go to school, they’ll need to move out to the suburbs where good schools exist. Even if central-city school districts aren’t as bad as people make them out to be, there is still a perception that they are. The Madison and Scottsdale districts will always have the perception that they’re better than Phoenix or Osborn school districts. And unless local charter schools can create spaces for those within a specific geography, those will never be the answer.
4. Maybe downtown Phoenix shouldn’t be treated as a special-case silo. The new draft of the Phoenix General Plan has five key thematic areas to shape City Hall’s philosophy of the City of Phoenix: communities and neighborhoods, the economy, sustainability and “green” living, connectivity, and making downtown vibrant. The talk in urban circles, certainly in some conversations and groups I’ve led, is to break down the silos in City Hall and to foster interdepartmental collaboration, something unfortunately rare. I fear that if we make downtown its own special case, we’re making it its own silo, which runs anathema to what we’ve tried to accomplish. The first four thematic areas are certainly true for just all parts of the city but have a different interpretation and vernacular in the urban context. All that makes downtown special is that it is the civic, cultural, and commercial core of both the city and region, something that this general plan document doesn’t affirm.
5. We need to stop thinking of a downtown with specific boundaries. I live in Midtown Phoenix near the Heard Museum; as I write this, I’m looking from my office window of my third-floor Midtown apartment and I see the various towers of Midtown. By any definition, it’s just as urban than, say, Central and Van Buren. I will freely admit that it was a massive planning mistake in the 1950s and 1960s to allow dense development to happen outside of downtown. These are, though, the historical cards that were dealt and we need to find ways to celebrate the fact that we have, as I’ve commented before, a linear downtown. But our talk about making downtown better ends south of McDowell Road. The same problems that plague Downtown also affect Midtown. Empty or underutilized lots? Transit-oriented development? We’ve got it all. Before you say what I think you’ll be saying, I am not saying that we should immediately abandon our labels of what is “downtown” and what isn’t nor am I saying that, for instance, 24 St and Camelback is downtown (it’s not and never will be). Phoenix’s urban core runs along Central Avenue from Camelback to Jefferson.
In which we introduce The Eddie Number, a measurement of economic activity in a downtown.
I’m creating a new statistic here: the “Eddie Number.”
The Eddie Number is a measurement of economic sprawl based on where large corporations set up shop in a city or metropolitan area. This will be used in tomorrow’s edition of The Friday Five / The Friday Urban Dispatch and it seems appropriate to introduce it here first.
To find the Eddie Number, subtract the number of downtown-based corporate headquarters from the corporate headquarters in the rest of the metro area. For standard calculations, I recommend using the Fortune 1000 list. (This is the default list to use. You can create your own modified Eddie Number using your own list of data but when sharing your calculation, you must make that list known.)
So based on that Fortune 1000 list, there are 13 companies based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Only 2 of the 13 are based in downtown Phoenix, the rest are based in either other cities or in suburban Phoenix office parks. That said, downtown Phoenix’s Eddie Number is:
An Eddie Number will always be negative (you can’t have more downtown-based corporate headquarters than companies based in an entire metropolitan region) and an Eddie Number closer to 0 is better because it means there is more economic activity happening in that city’s downtown.
Oh, and about the name: If you want a statistic named after yourself, then come up with your own statistic.
Commenters on my Facebook were quick to point out the usual failed Phoenix logic: “At least it’s still Phoenix instead of another town” was a chorus repeated on several occasions. It was suggested by a commenter that this was OK since Phoenix made a massive investment in the downtown-killing CityNorth project despite, as another commenter pointed out, it being a failed project. Other commenters suggested that we should work with Sprouts to have a grocery store downtown, possibly as part of the new development at Central & McDowell.
This idea that we must have economic activity all across the 550 square miles in Phoenix is killing our city and any hope we have to compete in the 21st century global marketplace that will be based on urban areas, urban activity, and urban economics. It may be very downtown-centric of me but there are two Phoenixes, if you will: there’s Phoenix proper, the urban part that is a much smaller size, say between I-17 on the west and south, SR-51 on the east, and Dunlap Avenue to the north. Then there’s the other part that I do not like to call Phoenix: the suburb of Phoenix that is subdivisions and sprawl, even if it is within the city limits of Phoenix. That other “Phoenix” is sucking all of the life from the Phoenix I know and love. When you’re both a suburb and central city, as Phoenix and “Phoenix” are, this is what happens.
All of the research and all of the trends suggest one thing: Downtowns of core cities will carry cities and regions forward, full stop. Even worse is this idea that Phoenix will succeed if our other suburban cities succeed. In a recent Twitter exchange I had with Jon Talton (@jontalton), author and Phoenix observer (and guest on an early episode of The Downtown Phoenix Podcast), he noted that “‘Regional’” is killing Phoenix. It’s the civic destruction without the entertainment value of Rob Ford.”
Other cities in our metropolitan area are certainly succeeding while downtown Phoenix falls behind. I have frequently praised Tempe for landing the new home for the U.S. national basketball team and State Farm Insurance developing in their downtown. I have publicly lauded Mesa and their former Mayor, Scott Smith, for the work done to bring quality economic development to downtown Mesa. If you would have told me 15 years ago that downtown Mesa would have a world-class performing arts center, light rail, and a nice downtown, I would have laughed at you. Outside of Arizona, we hear of developments moving specifically to downtown environments. California’s Active Network is moving their headquarters with 1,000 jobs to downtown Dallas.
What is the economic development strategy for downtown and midtown Phoenix? I fear to ask the next question, but I will: Is there one? I think it’s admirable that we are trying to have lots of incubator spaces and attract individual entrepreneurs but we need to ask: What is their economic impact compared to, say, the Sprouts Farmers Market headquarters? Or any headquarters for a major or emerging company? The lack of central-city economic stewards makes the downtown development case challenging, especially when the City of Phoenix has adopted the policy (in my estimation) that we need to spread the thin wealth of economic activity and development over the entire 550 square mile footprint.
Another troubling question that needs to be asked: Where have our central-city councilpeople been? Or what about the economic development groups that are tasked with downtown’s growth? My fears are that they were, again, asleep at the wheel. At last year’s overly contentious Phoenix City Council elections, one of the candidates said that they thought midtown Phoenix needed an economic development strategy; perhaps presciently, that same candidate called midtown an “inner city.” Absent an economic development strategy, we will become one in no time.
While we focus on walkability and creative temporary uses for undeveloped land in urban Phoenix, the good quality development—the stuff we want and so desperately need—moves away from here. We can have the most walkable streets and good urban design, if there’s nothing to walk to, then what’s the point?
This needs to be a wake-up call for all of us. We need to do better.
The regular Friday Urban Dispatch from downtown Phoenix for March 14: a unique boots-on-the-ground perspective of what’s happening.
Every other Friday or so on this blog, I’m going to do a mini-series of urban dispatches—thoughts from the urban landscape in Phoenix.
Meeting new voices. This has been a great week for meeting new voices that have an honest interest in making our downtown community better. I realize that I’m coming at the downtown question from an academic / intellectual perspective (I mean…my undergraduate degree is Urban and Metropolitan Studies!) but I’m starting to find these new voices that are approaching the downtown question from the same angle.
Not just “no” but “no…but what are the alternatives?” One of my conversations this week was with Paul Lopez, a Phoenix native and someone who’s in-tune with the goings-on in City Hall on many levels. We talked about the need for downtown to have a grocery store—somewhere on the scale between a neighborhood market and a suburban grocery store—and our conversation hit on an important decision-making philosophy: Rather than saying ‘no’ outright, let’s ask this question: “No…but what are our alternatives?”
City Hall is starting to get the urban condition. It’s not perfect but I am getting the sense that City Hall is starting to get the notion that the downtown / urban condition is different and has a different lexicon, vocabulary, and design imperatives than suburban Phoenix. It’s not perfect yet but the right baby steps are being made. More promising, however, is that City staff are wanting to listen to downtown interests to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Whither McDowell Road. While the previous point is a plus, there are still silos within City Hall that need to be broken down and addressed. The City’s definition of “downtown Phoenix” goes to the south right-of-way of McDowell Road while their definition of “midtown Phoenix” begins at the north right-of-way of McDowell. Left out of the discussion is McDowell Road itself, a core east-west street in central Phoenix. Right now, it’s a nightmare to travel at any time of day. At 3:00pm on weekdays during the school year, the mass pick-up of students from Arizona School for the Arts makes Manhattan traffic look like a small town. (The City needs to work with the school to work on a traffic management plan…or the same school needs to encourage its students to take public transportation!) I like the streetcar line proposed for McDowell Road but that’s a long-term aspiration.
A city in potentia. Last Friday night, I was walking around downtown to see and hear the goings-on of the Viva Phoenix music festival. In addition to the musicians performing on their outdoor stages, there was a definite energy downtown: there were people, there was noise, there were even random marching bands walking around. I’m loathe to use phrases like “seminal moment” or “turning point” but I think March 7 will be looked on in years hence as a turning-point for downtown.
The Urban Friday Dispatches: SB1062, geographic precision, walking and biking, and pedestrian malls
Every other Friday or so on this blog, I’m going to do a mini-series of urban dispatches—thoughts from the urban landscape in Phoenix.
SB1062…sigh.SB1062 has been passed by both houses of the State Legislature and is on Governor Brewer’s desk to sign. It’s a discrimination bill that targets our friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the LGBTQ communities…full stop. To say that it’s a “religious freedom” bill is wrong and is an explanation that should be an affront to any person of faith. Lots of statements opposing SB1062 have been sent along to the Governor’s Office — including Phoenix’s mayor Greg Stanton, the Steering Committee of Downtown Voices Coalition, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and others — and one must hope that the Governor has the decency to veto this unconstitutional legislation. One wonders if Google’s announcement that it’s considering deploying its Google Fiber service or next year’s Super Bowl are in jeopardy. Otherwise, it’s off to the courts.
Where is downtown Phoenix. The massive fire yesterday at a salvage plant near 23rd Avenue and McDowell Road is out and our first responders did a spectacular job responding to this dangerous situation. In reporting the fire, lots of media outlets labeled the fire as being “in downtown Phoenix,” something we who live here know is geographically incorrect. I sent out a “note to media” tweet that said that 23rd Avenue & McDowell is “NOT downtown Phoenix” but I don’t know how many outlets heeded that advice.
Walking and bicycling. For the past four months, I’ve been a part of the City of Phoenix’s Ad Hoc Pedestrian and Bicycling Task Force, the group that is tasked with looking at the City’s plans for pedestrian and bicycling master plans. A draft document of a pedestrian safety plan was given to Task Force members and I was generally pleased about its content. The tone, however, of that document seemed to place the onus of responsibility for their actions more on the pedestrian instead of those around on bikes and in cars. For pedestrian safety, though, there are two things that can be done that will enhance that in the downtown core: ban bicycling on sidewalks and ban mobile phone use while driving a car or bike.
Pedestrian malls. Something that I’ve really gotten the feeling of in this town is that we really really don’t like the idea of pedestrian malls. As the most progressivecitiesintheworld start to think about their future without cars, it’s certainly something that we in Phoenix need to start thinking about. “What!?” you ask. “Phoenix without cars? Surely you can’t be serious!” (I am serious and stop calling me Shirley.) Look at the data: We’re past the point of “peak car” — more people aren’t getting their driver’s licenses when they turn 16 or 18. The first cities were formed in Mesopotamia ca. 5400 BCE. The first modern cars were driven in 1886—more than 7,200 years after the first cities. By my math, cars have been around for just about 2% of the time cities have been around. We can certainly have cities, again, without cars.
In this finale of four posts, I end on a positive note: looking at downtown Phoenix’s opportunities as 2013 ends and the New Year 2014 approaches.
In these past couple weeks, I’ve been thinking about the things that have happened in 2013 in downtown Phoenix and how they shape its present as well as the next year in our community. Re-read my observations on downtown’s strengths, weaknesses, and threats first before reading this finale post.
A DOWNTOWN PHOENIX YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2013: IV. OPPORTUNITIES
1. Arizona Center for Law and Society — As part of the growth of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, ASU administration is planning to move their Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to downtown Phoenix in a new building, the Arizona Center for Law and Society. The building will be a great asset to the growing University District in downtown Phoenix. While many people bemoan the design of the building including its placement of an alumni-run law firm on the 1st Street sidewalk-level elevation, my chief concern is about how public the building will remain given ASU central administration’s desire to clamp down on access to their buildings, especially downtown. Let’s get this building built before somebody changes their mind.
2. 1st Street Redesign — It is nice that the City is starting to think creatively about what to do with downtown streets. The redesign of 1st Street from Washington to Hance Park is certainly eye-opening and also includes Phoenix’s first parklet (miniature park) near Garfield Street, outside Matt’s Big Breakfast. The narrowing of one of downtown’s widest streets has made it possible for more non-automobile users to take advantage of that street but the stock of buildings and their non-engagement to the 1st Street streetscape makes it curious why that street was chosen as a demonstration project. Still, though, progress is progress and it’s good that the City is looking at streets in a different light.
3. Rising Interest in Bicycling in Urban Phoenix — As 2013 closes, we are inching closer to becoming a good place to bicycle. The City’s Street Transportation recently seated a twelve-member Bicycling & Pedestrian Ad Hoc Task Force (of which I am a member), of which one of its charges is to at the City’s new bicycling master plan in parallel with two national engineering firms specializing in bicycling infrastructure. In addition, bicycle share is coming to central Phoenix in 2014. While I believe that downtown’s adequate bicycle infrastructure should have been installed before bicycle share, I hope that this new citywide look at bicycling will usher in the much-needed improvements to downtown’s bicycling infrastructure.
4. New City Council Representatives for Districts 4 and 8 — Two of Phoenix’s council districts containing urban Phoenix will have new representation in January: Laura Pastor in District 4 (Midtown, Maryvale) and Kate Gallego in District 8 (Downtown East, Sky Harbor, South Phoenix). I had the great opportunity to interview both of these women and so I am hopeful for what they will seek to accomplish in their first term. Both Districts 4 and 8 contain neighborhoods that are truly coming into their own identities and I would hope that the new councilwomen can find the best way to work with the neighborhoods and celebrate the progress that has happened.
5. Setting the Stage for the 2015 Super Bowl — In February 2015, the world will descend to metropolitan Phoenix for the 49th annual playing of the NFL’s championship game. It’s a foregone conclusion that the game will be in Glendale at the University of Phoenix Stadium. But it is supposed to be announced that the NFL’s major events will take place in downtown Phoenix and all that is happening here will be on the national and international stage. This is a major opportunity for everyone here to put their best foot forward and I think everyone understands the stakes that are at hand. I would hope that we look to tell downtown Phoenix’s story as this: urban living is celebrated here.
As 2013 winds down, let’s look back on the year that was in downtown Phoenix. In this third post of four, I’ll look at downtown Phoenix’s threats.
In these past couple weeks, I’ve been thinking about the things that have happened in 2013 in downtown Phoenix and how they shape its present as well as the next year in our community. Yesterday, I discussed downtown’s weaknesses; in the finale tomorrow, I’ll share my assessment of downtown’s opportunities. On Thursday, I discussed downtown’s strengths.
A DOWNTOWN PHOENIX YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2013: III. THREATS
In the traditional SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, on which this quartet of posts is modeled, a weakness is defined as something of internal origin that is harmful to organizational mission. I had a difficult time categorizing items that are weaknesses or threats (external origin) so this afternoon’s post should be read in concert with yesterday’s post.
1. Fallout from 2nd Street / Knipe House RFP — Like any good project downtown, the saga has been documented in many blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts. (NB: I was retained by one of the proposing teams for the original RFP to provide technical advice.) I won’t chime in too much on the topic because of that involvement but I know that time will certainly tell what happens with the project and how it might impact the Roosevelt Street district. There has been a petition launched by one of the main people behind one of the non-selected projects to call on the City to reject the selected project. Tempers and tensions are very high, understandably, but I hope the language being used surrounding this project (e.g., “the end is nigh for Roosevelt and downtown Phoenix”) is brought to a more civil — and reasonable — level.
2. Suburban vs. Urban Council District Divide — In recent years, and especially manifest in 2013, there has been a major divide in urban vs. suburban interests on the City Council. The council has become, unfortunately, more anti-downtown and anti-urban. The original plans for a large downtown biomedical campus have been retooled to share with all parts of Phoenix, especially near north Phoenix’s Mayo Hospital. Mayor Greg Stanton was the lone dissenting vote to approve a large Circle K at the southeast corner of 7th Street and Roosevelt. The proposed downtown observation structure, “The Pin,” was championed by a north Phoenix council representative. To those people, our downtown is a playground for suburbanites. While that might be okay to some point, it does very little for those who try to make and celebrate the urban experience in Phoenix. (I’ll write an essay on this in 2014.)
3. Phoenix’s Community & Economic Development Department (CED) Asleep at the Wheel — In 2013, we’ve learned of several major economic development projects that have gone to Phoenix’s suburb cities: a major Apple component subcontractor locating in southeast Mesa, State Farm and USA Basketball to Tempe, among others. No mention was made of Phoenix, especially downtown Phoenix, even being in the running for these major endeavors. If not, where was CED? And, if so, what broke down?
4. Location and Site of “The Pin” — To great relief, it’s been announced that the proposed “The Pin” observation deck at Heritage & Science Park will not be happening. This is a good thing, right, so why is it on the threats list? People involved with “The Pin” have been scoping out other sites in downtown including, perhaps, as part of Hance Park’s redesign. I would hope that this project has seen its last light: I am not a fan.
5. Relationship with the State of Arizona — At best, Phoenix has a tenuous relationship with our state government. In recent months, though, it would seem that the relationship between Phoenix and Arizona has soured. After Phoenix passed its LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in March, the State Legislature took up debate on trying to overturn Phoenix’s law. In 2012, the State Legislature passed legislation that forced cities to have their municipal elections in even-numbered years; this year, a court overturned this law. We’ve seen the ongoing sagas with the debates over solar power, women’s health rights, immigration reform and immigrants’ rights, and almost every other debate out there. And then there’s perception. Arizona is still plagued by the fallout from SB 1070 and all of the baggage that went along with that. That perception is still alive elsewhere: as Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Wash. LD 34) tweeted after the Arizona Cardinals upset the Seattle Seahawks last week: “Losing to a desert racist wasteland sucks a lot.”