Shana Ellis earned Tempe Leadership’s top community honor

Tempe City Councilman Shana Ellis, newly named president and CEO of TCH – The Centers for Habilitation and longtime community civic leader, has been selected for Tempe Leadership’s highest honor, the Outstanding Community Leader Award, given annually since 1990. She will be honored during the Tempe Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Breakfast of Champions at 7:30 a.m. Friday February 28 at the Embassy Suites, 4400 S. Rural Road, Tempe.
The 1988 Tempe High School graduate, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in business/computer information systems and a master’s in public administration, has held numerous civic roles over the past two decades.
The two-term councilman, Tempe Leadership Class XIII graduate and former Tempe Community Council assistant director, was president of the Kiwanis Club of Tempe in 2002-2003. She becomes the seventh member of that club to win Tempe Leadership’s Outstanding Community Leader Award. Others are Lawn Griffiths (1992); Linda Spears (1999); Bill Regner (2002); Neil Giuliano (2005); Sharon Doyle (2008); Beth Fiorenza (2012); and Shana Ellis (2014).

Lauren Kuby for Council

My family always told me that I was bound for a life of community service. I can trace that path as far back as 1958, when my parents were volunteering for John F Kennedy’s Senate campaign. One day, JFK unexpectedly stopped by our small town’s campaign office. He asked for coffee, and my eager Dad raced home to brew a cup, leaving 8-month-old me and my Mom alone with the family hero. “Your daughter makes me miss my baby Caroline. Can I hold her?” The story of JFK rocking me as a baby became family lore and a large part of my identity.

My Dad was a town committeeman and, at age 12, I was a proud “assistant” committeewoman…or so I thought. Turns out that position never existed; he awarded me that title to dupe me into doing his work! Still, the sense of contributing to my community has been important to me ever since. My middle-class parents raised me to believe that being part of a community means doing the necessary work to take care of it. That has been my guiding principle as I worked in campaigns, both nonpartisan and partisan, from local to statewide to national.

Since first moving to Tempe 25 years ago, bringing people together has been my passion: as a parent at Hudson Elementary School, fashioning the district’s first site-based governance team; as a member of Tempe Leadership Class XXV, collaborating to bring a mobile-shower trailer to our homeless population; and, as a Tempe Community Council board member, “connecting those in need with those that care.” Harry Mitchell—a font of Tempe history, government, geography, and public service—has been my inspiration for much of that time.

In the present day, as manager of community engagement for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, I oversee a packed public events calendar, mentor ASU undergraduate students, and engage the Tempe community in sustainable solutions. In one example, I brought together neighborhood volunteers, local businesses, and the City in a continuing “A” Mountain Restoration Project.

As a community leader and a champion of urban sustainability, my goal is to connect the University, local small businesses, nonprofits, and neighborhood organizations to strive towards sustainable solutions.

Why I’m Running

Tempe’s been my home for more than 25 years. Our city may be considered part of the “Greater Phoenix metro area,” but those of us who live here know that Tempe is special: an urban community with the feel of a small town. It’s second nature for Tempeans to care for each other; and to invest in our children and our infrastructure.

Overall, our elected officials have done a fine job of taking care of our community. While other Valley cities struggled through the recession, Tempe proved resilient, and our city budget continued to reflect our community values. We are now in strong position to move forward. It’s our community, and we need to take care of it.

Look around, and we see a federal government in gridlock and a state legislature that has ignored the needs of our communities. From my perspective at the Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of sustainability research, education, and business practices across ASU, I see that cities are where solutions can really move from “talk” to “walk.” Cites are where it’s happening.

My experience at ASU provides a perspective not found on the council today. At ASU, I’m surrounded by amazing innovators and researchers, as well as students and staff who hunger to take their work from concept to reality. I want to bring my unique perspective and experience to a council that embraces innovation and entrepreneurs and is open to suggestions from neighborhoods and residents.

City Council decisions impact our community for generations. Now more than ever, Tempeans need to double-down on progress made on energy-efficiency and solar initiatives. We should work with ASU on ways to turn trash into business opportunities and jobs in our community. We need to reap the benefits of an ASU partnership and lead the Valley in sparking a resilient, clean-energy economy. On the social side, we need to transition the homeless, one-third of whom are veterans, into affordable, supportive housing.

l view Tempe as a vibrant place where we embrace diversity, where we care for those in need, and where our children and grandchildren will continue to thrive.

I ask for one of your three votes on Primary Day, Tuesday, August 24, 2014.

Web Site:


Twitter: @KubyForCouncil

Phone: 602-790-2156



The Arizona Republic named Lauren Kuby as one of the “Top 5 People Who Made a Difference in Tempe,” citing her advocacy on homelessness and environmental issues. Most recently, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light named her a “Hero for Eco-Justice.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from The University of Chicago and a master’s in public history from ASU. She lives in Tempe with her husband, Mike, an ASU geographer and urban-planning professor, and their two daughters, Nora and Olivia, whom she affectionately references as “Ignora and Oblivious.”

Cost/Benefit Sharing…Who Pays?

I have not written a policy paper in some time.  The reason is simple, most of what I do on Tempe City Council is fact specific and not overarching “policy/government theory” in nature.  However, of late, a “policy theory” has emerged, that being, who should pay the burden for the benefit?

If it is a private benefit, I believe, the person who benefits from the purely private benefit should pay 100% of the cost.  For example, I want a TV that I am going to put in my living room.  I think we can all agree I should be the one to pay 100% of the cost of that TV when I buy it at the store.

If, however, it is a totally public benefit, I believe 100% of the public should share the cost.  Clean tap water in your house, assuming everyone has it, everyone likes it, everyone wants it, and everyone drinks it, would be a 100% public benefit.  Under this example, everyone should pay the cost of producing clean drinking water and delivering it to homes.

Of course, it does not take much thinking to realize that there is no purely private or purely public benefit.  TV’s run on electricity, create waste for landfills, are produced by labor, generate pollution, and have a host of secondary effects.  So, while it may seem a purely private benefit, there are secondary public benefits (or detriments) by having things done a certain way.

Likewise, in the drinking water example, each buyer of tap water may have a different standard for how clean they want their water to be, and yet, they are paying the costs that the cleanest water consumer (or, in this case, the EPA) sets.  They are paying for a benefit beyond that which they value.

The entire field of pure public benefit vs. pure private benefit quickly disappears and everything turns into shades of gray.  Public parks in south Tempe are not typically used by those in north Tempe, yet everyone funds the park.  The orbit busses run in north Tempe only, yet people in south Tempe pay for them as well.  Couples without children pay property taxes to schools they will never use.

Truthfully, about 1/4 of all council emails I have received in the last 3-6 months fall into the “why am I paying for something I don’t use?” category.  The answer to “why?” is a combination of factors that include (1) tradition, (2) public vs. private benefit analysis, and (3) the “rising tides lift all boats” theory.

In a perfect world we might accurately know the public vs. private benefit ratio of every government action and appropriately bill in a correct % individuals based on the % of the benefit they receive.  This is, of course, impossible in most instances.  Clearly, those who have children attending a strong public school receive a greater direct benefit, but those who have an educated workforce, less associated crime, and lower unemployment rates down the road also receive a secondary benefit.  For that matter, cities that hire away the best and brightest to work in their community get a benefit from the children we educated; should we send them a bill?

Tradition plays a role as well.  Roads on the west coast have always been paid by the general public through taxes.  We could, however, equip every car, bike, and person with a mileage tracker, determine the cost they put on the transportation system by going somewhere, and bill them at the end of the month for their “road cost” they produced.  We do not do that.  Most people do not suggest we should do that.  For that matter, we do not charge a private toll road fee for driving the I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson, even though most of the public rarely drives that road.

The problem is complex, but the answer is simple in how I deal with this issue.  When it comes to determining who pays for police, fire, water, parks, roads, the arts, the town lake, public transportation, and a host of other things; I make educated estimates.  I do my best to think of the direct public vs. private benefit, while taking into account secondary costs and benefits, and I make an educated guess.  A guess which, I freely admit, could be wrong and to which reasonable minds could differ.

The town lake has a disproportionate benefit to developers and residents near the lake.  I agree with the council policy of having land owners near the lake pay a lake assessment fee to help pay for the lake on top of their usual taxes.  I disagree with having residents within a 1 mile radius pay that same special fee.  (However, the increased property taxes caused by being near the lake may mean they actually do pay more.)  I agree with having properties that have the police out because of repeated crime (or loud parties) pay a greater share of the cost of paying that officers salary.  That said, clearly, the entire city benefits by having a less crime friendly environment.

I could list additional examples, dozens of examples…the point I am trying to make is simple.  First, I do have a philosophical underpinning for my decisions; the public pays for public things, the private pays for private things.  Second, it is a very gray and complicated area and I understand reasonable minds can differ on the public vs. private benefit ratios.  Third, I am working from best guesses and imperfect information.  If we disagree, it does not mean I dislike you, your neighborhood, or do not care about your concerns.  It simply means I am weighing things differently than you and, very likely, with less bias.

In short, be kind, I am doing my best.

~Kolby Granville, Tempe City Council

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Michael Monti Accepts Invitation to Participate in Mayoral Candidate Forum

I gladly accept the Arizona Republic’s invitation to participate in their January 30th Tempe Mayoral Candidates’ Forum at the Tempe Council Chambers.

In business, competition is what keeps us on our toes. The same can be said in politics. As a restaurant owner I have had to compete side by side to stay in business. As a candidate for Tempe Mayor, I think that should be applied in politics. That’s why I am calling on the community to host as many mayoral debates as possible.

Tempe voters are facing a critical decision as they select a new mayor and the best way to help them decide is to give them a chance to see the candidates side by side.

While this may be the most challenging forum for the candidates, it is the most rewarding forum for the voters. I believe that once voters hear my message that calls for innovation and private sector solutions, they will support me and vote for me in the primary election on March 13, 2012.

Vote for who you support for Tempe Mayor & City Council

Click this link to show your support by voting for Tempe’s next Mayor and your favorite City Council Candidates.

Are you registered to vote?   If not please vist this link and get registered today.   If you are one of the approximately 77,439 Tempe registered voters we encourage you to cast your ballot in the March 13,2012 primary election and the May 15,2012 general election.   You will be voting for Mayor and three Council Candidates.


In case your curious, yes we have many tricks to not allow for repeat voting.   Let’s play fair.

Tempe City Council Considering Top Secret Dam Replacement Option

INSIDE TEMPE:  A Special Report

BY: Dmstrang

TEMPE  (October 15))  According to the Tempe Republic, Tempe is considering four options for replacement of the rubber dam on the west side  of the Tempe’s Town Lake.

Dam It

We have learned that there is a fifth option: “The replacement dam could well be a Beaver Dam.” That is the opinion of an un-named city staffer who prefers to remain anonymous because the Mayor and City Council have yet to make a final decision.

“However,” the staffer says, “the decision to build a Beaver Dam seems obvious.” The research to decide the best alternative to replace the current rubber bladder dam has been narrowed down to a few alternatives: an earthen dam, a concrete dam, some sort of metal construction or….a Beaver Dam. The cost for any of these alternatives has yet to be determined. But, early speculation indicates that a Beaver Dam would be the most cost effective and environmentally sound solution.

City of Tempe staff responsible for the project are currently calculating how many beavers it would take to construct the dam, where the trees and material would come from needed to replace the dam, and how the dam could be maintained by the beavers who would work in conjunction with SRP, the agency that manages the dam’s water flow.

One SRP official said, “If we had thought about beaver technology back in 1910, we might have been able to build Roosevelt Dam for a lot less money. But then we would have had to figure out what to name the dam in the absence of President Roosevelt.”

One of the challenges for the beaver option is that the Town Lake dam would be the largest ever constructed by beavers. The biggest beaver dam known is 40 feet long by 10 feet high, and required 17-21 beavers to make it happen Given the size of the Town Lake dam the city is estimating how many beavers it would have to contract with for the project so that it meets it’s targeted completion deadline.

Another issue to be resolved is the availability of construction materials. It is believed that the city could work with state forestry officials to employ a certain number of beavers who would gnaw down trees from forests in the northern sections of Arizona, especially those areas that need tree thinning to prevent future forest fires. Those trees would then be shipped to Town Lake shores for use in dam construction.

City planners concede that estimates of the number of trees needed for dam construction are, at this point, anyone’s guess. It is also possible that a number of beavers could be employed to explore the river bottom west of the lake to find materials that might be used and, in the process, improve the Salt River’s habitat.

Replacement Alternative

There are hurdles in the way of making a final decision: the dam must contain the lake at consistent levels, and it must provide a means to open the dam for the times SRP needs to release excess water down the Salt River.

Planners believe the Beaver Dam could be managed to meet both requirements.

The dam would be constructed to permit a small trickle. Unlike a concrete, steel, rubber or earthen dam, a Beaver Dam would have natural openings through which water can flow. SRP and Tempe would work closely with a cadre of beavers, who will remain employed after construction, to open and close small sections of the dam to regulate water flow. Beavers often construct lodges as part of the dams they build in which they also raise their children (kits). The city envisions that beaver lodge condos would easily house those needed for dam maintenance.

In the event of a large water release, these same beavers could quickly take down a significant portion of the dam to permit major flows. When the water flow was no longer necessary, the beavers would simply restore the dam.

Planners are also evaluating whether or not specially trained beaver wranglers might be required to coordinate construction and maintenance in order to facilitate communication between the beavers, the city and SRP.  Arizona State University is exploring the possibility of creating a beaver wrangler degree.

Officials noted that there is at least one strong advantage to the Beaver Dam option: it would keep a large number of beavers employed for an extended period of time. In anticipation of this opportunity some Mill Avenue merchants are already contemplating the opening of beaver oriented yogurt shops.

In addition, The Tempe Tourism Office is working with Tempe hotels to offer special weekend beaver observation packages; and Ironman executives said that having beavers swimming with and next to Ironman contestants would certainly offer support and encouragement to the swimmers.

(For additional information about beavers, go to or

Tempe moves residents, builds sustainable transportation alternative

By City Councilmember Shana Ellis

Shana Ellis

Transportation is vital for our continued efforts to make Tempe a sustainable and progressive community. As chair of the City Council Transportation Committee, I monitor and provide guidance for a vast array of transportation-related issues. Together, our community has accomplished many things over the last 15 years and we have exciting opportunities to come.

Things really began moving when Tempe voters passed a dedicated, half-cent sales tax in 1996. Since then, the city has enhanced its bus and Dial-a-Ride systems, launched Orbit neighborhood circulators, created a free youth transit pass program youth, added bikeways and pedestrian facilities, implemented light rail and constructed two green transportation facilities.

Tempe’s transportation system moves more than just cars and buses. We have an extensive bicycle and pedestrian network that is continuously being improved. In 2011, we completed two key projects: improving the Crosscut Canal multi-use path; and revamping the streetscape, bike lanes and sidewalks of a section of College Avenue. The Crosscut Canal path is now paved, with landscaping, solar lighting and public art. It provides a true regional connection by linking downtown Tempe and Scottsdale. The streetscape project has sustainable features like water harvesting and desert landscaping, along with reduced asphalt and added trees. It includes sidewalk improvements, raised medians, median islands, bicycle lanes, raised intersections and street narrowing.

Moving from the recent past to the present, Tempe has recently used regional and federal grant funds to put 17 new hybrid-electric buses into service, replacing older, less fuel-efficient models. You can see them on our streets now – they hold more passengers, produce fewer emissions and make less noise than conventional buses. We are proud that they are visible signs of Tempe’s desire to innovate, conserve fuel and provide excellent customer service.

While the city has completed many great transportation projects and enhanced the way we move people, there is still much work to be done. On the horizon is the establishment of a Tempe Streetcar. Planned to open in 2016, the Tempe Streetcar will run 2.6 miles along Mill Avenue between downtown Tempe and Southern Avenue. It is critical to developing a total transit network in this region. The Tempe Streetcar will support the existing transit system and community with its ability to attract new riders, increase mobility, strengthen existing neighborhoods and create sustainable development. The project will provide one additional way to get around Tempe – and so much more.

For details on Tempe’s transportation system, visit The City Council Transportation Committee’s work plan is available at I also invite you to watch the October edition of Community Focus on Tempe 11 at Feel free to contact me at 480-350-8813 or via email at