July 26,2011
Welcome to Tempe Thoughts:

Anyone who has lived in Tempe, knows it is a pretty special place.   Somehow this community of over 180,000 has managed to keep some of  it’s small town charm in that there is a core group of citizens who work hard to stay involved in its many issues.   However, what is missing (in my opinion) is a modern-day stump to stand on and voice opinions to anyone who is interested enough to listen.   For most of my life, that tool was the Opinion Page and Letter to the Editor in the local paper.   In today’s social media world there is plenty of opportunity of opportunity to become a go to source for news and opinions related to a common interest.   My goal is for our community Tempe Thoughts will become that source.

Tempe Thoughts’s goal is to improve our public discourse regarding  any issue (perceived or real) which effects our community and provide timely news and event information.   The success of this Blog will be determined by those who participate.   I encourage you to send me an email with your thoughts, frustrations, opinions and anything else you deem interesting.   The only rules are that is has to be related to Tempe and that we stay clear of personal character assassination.

I leave you with a quote by Benamin Franklin “For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.”

Joseph Lewis

Please send your opinion pieces to  editor@tempethoughts.org

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  1. Dick Foreman says:

    There are many opinions in Tempe and that is the strength and the challenge of any public discourse. The truest test of writing opinion, which I have done for years, is the very quote Joseph Lewis has hung his editorial hat on to initiate this blog. In part, Ben Franklin is attributed as saying: “I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.”

    Did the most important phrase jump out at you as it did to me when you read that? Franklin didn’t say it was “nice” or “cool” or intellectually honest” to consider the opinions of others, he said he was “obliged” to not only listen, but alter his views. In other words, sharing opinions is not an opportunity to merely argue, enrage, incite or stake out turf, it is to cause discourse which includes intelligent, thoughtful consideration of things we “once thought right but found to be otherwise.”

    The discourse in Tempe has often been thoughtful and has caused Tempeans of every political stripe to practice Franklin’s obligation at times. At other times, we have been caught up in the rather useless discourse that is to belittle or frame our opponents viewpoints as somehow rooted in evil or ignorance. We can all think of examples of both situations.

    I consider the discussion on school unification one that is rooted in discourse, it being obvious that all sides want what is best for our schools, our children and education in Tempe. I can accept and admire strong opinions on all sides of this issue and have modified my thoughts to more accurately reflect my personal determination to support a great education for our children; not necessarily a structure for that education as if that was the secret. It clearly is not merely a discussion about the structures, administrative practices, or even teaching tools, but about the processes and, of course, most importantly, the people who do it that matters.

    I consider the recent discussion on Tempe tax policy a hybrid. I have seen many folks, initially enraged by what they “thought right but found to be otherwise” become thoughtful, positive participants in this worthy debate. So long as we strive to explore genuine feelings on how we will build our city, tax our residents, and move forward on public projects, we’ll have a vibrant and necessary balance.

    But we also have some Tempe politics that seem to ensure that no amount of discussion need take place. The problem is politics itself, because once you are defined as a RINO or a LIBERAL or a UNION THUG or a TEA PARTY member, the discussion becomes a heated defense of who you are, not what you believe. In other words, the proponents and antagonists can sometimes become the obstacles to policy as the discussions become more about personalities than the ideas and actions so necessary to administer our town. If we can listen to the words and appreciate the ideas behind them on all sides, maybe we can put a symbolic arm around these critical policy debates and avoid the tip toe depth of discussions that vilify or personalize public policy as if it were an individual that was at stake, not our entire community.

    If we are smart, we will utilize this wonderful democracy and this wonderfully diverse community we all live in to explore things we “once thought right but found to be otherwise” based on our open minds to different ideas, respect for those ideas and for our own personal growth so we can be continually be “obliged” to learn and grow.

    Sure, we have an election coming up. I’m thinking about running. I can guarantee I will run for something. It may be the border. Or it may be political office, but forums that explore candidates views that open our minds to one another’s passions, concerns and ideas will surely be the challenge moving forward. All philosophies of government cannot be imposed or modeled in any one candidate, but any candidate can incorporate respect for the breadth of our passions to be a better Tempean, because that is who we are; diverse, different, surrounded, and yes, neighbors.

  2. Deb Goff says:

    Great idea. Thanks. Can we talk about absentee landlords who let all the trees and grass die, let old cars sit in the front yard, spill trash and oil all over–and yes we contacted the city. Nothing.

  3. Lisa Bayne says:

    Wonderful! Cheers.

  4. Thank you Joseph. This is a wonderful idea! I look forward to sharing information with everyone.


  5. A quick word of thanks to Joseph for making this “stump” available to his friends and neighbors.

    Good luck and see you down the line.

  6. Mayú R. Valladolid says:

    Congratulations. I will keep reading!


  7. Susan Carlson says:

    Joe and Dick, I very much appreciate the opportunity – and the tone – this represents. As Dick knows, I head up a business and education coalition. The goal in this group is to find common ground from among the disparate opinion on everything from tax rates to graduation rates to drop out rates and education in Arizona. We make a distinction between “debate, discussion and dialogue”. Dialogue is our ultimate goal, attempting to get to a place where you become empathetic with the others. That is when one’s thinking may be modified – when you begin to care about how the issues affect the lives of others and you sincerely want to make it better for them – as well as for you and yours. Great things can occur when that moment is reached – but it takes time and patience and a willingness to stay in the game.

    I am a native Tempean and proud that our children were raised here. We, as Tempeans, are surrounded by great leaders, thought and institutions. I look forward to reading and participating in thoughtful diaglogue about issues in Tempe.

  8. Dick Foreman says:

    So I just got home from the Tempe Settlers picnic and what a blast to see so many great Tempe faces and hear so many great Tempe stories. Special thanks to Joel Navarro, who I know serves on the board that puts this together, and of course, the one and only Joe Spracale and so many others!

    Many of the stories I so enjoyed listening to this afternoon had to do with the “old” Tempe Beach Park. Of course, as Joe will remind us, it was a park, picnic area and pool along the mighty Salt River; not really a beach. It certainly looked very different in those days but what great memories Tempeans have of it! I believe the original concept of Tempe Beach Park can make a comeback. I’ve discussed this with quite a few folks, will be discussing a lot more in the city council campaign to come, but thought I’d share this thought here.

    Tempe Town Lake is a marvelous facility. World class events happen here, tourists flock to the lakeside and event planners rub their hands in glee at the thought of locking in a Fall/Winter/Spring weekend for good reason. People love to come here to play and participate in Tempe and on Town Lake. But I’m thinking that Town Lake has a ways to go to recapture some of the magic of the past. Tempe Beach Park. That was magic!

    I will be exploring the feasibility of the City actually opening up a beach for our use and ensuring that it is available to Tempe kids and families the most. In other words, no roping it off for special events, but focusing on keeping it open as much as possible for all our families and neighbors to enjoy.

    How is that possible? I think it is possible if we use some sort of easy to put in place, easy to take down, water curtains that would separate Town Lake with a thin sheet of material between anchored pylons so that we could properly treat and maintain a high level of water quality that met all swimming standards for the designated area, maybe an acre or less, with a real sandy beach leading into it. For flood control operations, the barrier could easily be removed to permit the passing of flood waters. The sand might need maintenance after such an event, but the cost of that for the benefit derived would be the real deal for Tempe families.

    What do you think? Is it worth taking advantage of this beautiful lake by ensuring that our tax dollars are well used to open up lake activities to everyone? Would you like to see some of the old town charm of Tempe restored with a focus on picnics, families and enjoying a day at “the beach?”

    Do you have ideas you’d be willing to share to help make this happen? Councilmember Shekerjian has already agreed to help me look into this with staff but this isn’t intended to be an exclusive club of researchers. The more the merrier. Hope this gets your thoughts flowing, too. And if you need more validation of the merits of a real Tempe Beach, you might talk to some of the “old settlers” I met with today. They can regale you with the value, the memories and the beauty of such a facility.

    Bring back Tempe Beach Park!

    Dick Foreman
    City Council Candidate and your Tempe neighbor!

    • Jan Elling says:

      With summer weather arriving, I would like an update on Clark Park Pool. I know that before the economy went South, a new design had been approved, but funds were not available to continue. What is the status at this time? I am all for improving Tempe Town Lake, but would like the neighborhood parks (Clark & McClintock) to return to full use before adding a swimming area at TTL.

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