Tempe City Council Candidates Question of the Week

Background: In 2020, the 1/10th of 1% sales tax that was passed to fund the Tempe Center for the Arts will sunset. Since the TCA continues to loose money and appears to be unable to create a viable and sustainable plan for both fundraising and programming to at least achieve a breakeven budget, there is a discussion to launch another ballot initiative to extend the tax maybe indefinitely.

Question 9:

Since the Tempe City Council has in the past fulfilled its pledge to sunset temporary sales taxes, will you be in favor of a voter-approved extension of the TCA tax given the past and present ongoing losses being incurred by the Tempe Center for the Arts?

Stanley Nicpon

Matthew Papke
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It is about accountability. Take this excerpt from a recent article relating to a found $1.5MM. “It looks like Ken Jones and Andrew Ching set the council up to look like the fools they are.”Hotchy Kiene, chairman of the commission and arts commissioner David Kephart told the The Republic they were aware that the fund had a $1.5 million savings, but they said the city, not the commission, controls the fund’s budget.” Commissioner David Lucier was surprised to learn of the unused money. ”I certainly was not aware we have a million dollars in the (account)” he said.” (full article)

Clearly something is amiss here. Should the tax payers suffer the expenses to support an Art’s Center that is unable to reconcile it’s books properly?

In 2012 the expenses for the Art Center were $8.5MM the revenue generate was $782,000 from services. True there was a large principle payment made to the fund, but the operating costs far exceed revenues generated. $1.4MM was spent on interest on the debt and $2.5MM in community service costs aka (operating costs). (page 126)

I would vote no at this time to renewing a tax on a project that shows no promise at breaking even at this point. It is time to start treating the public’s money like we would our own. At this time the Arts Center seems like a very bad financial investment. At the very least there should be management shake ups and a restructuring, just like would take place in the real world.

There are those who will say I dislike art. They are wrong. Come to my house, you will find a variety of musical instruments and many pieces of art, additionally I study and practice traditional arts daily. What I do dislike is abuse of the public trust and tax base. If we are able to turn the TCA around I would be happy to be a part of that, but the sunset should be upheld and the TCA should stand on it’s own, via public usage or charitable contributions or any combination thereof.

Shana Ellis
shana ellis

If requested, I am in favor of putting an item on the ballot to ask the Tempe citizens if they would support extending the tax for the Tempe Center for Arts. The tax originally was voter approved. Any extension of that tax should be brought back to the voters. I would support putting that question on the ballot.

Dick Foreman

Dick Foreman

No, I am not in favor of a permanent tax increase.  There are several reasons.  First of all, boutique or “vanity” taxes applied to our sales tax or other revenue streams are very poor tax policy.  Every group has wonderful arguments about why they are special and should not have to compete in front of the public in open meeting for their needs to be met in the context of the entire budget.  But that’s precisely what should happen to ensure we have the most thoughtful discussion and make the touch choices in front of all Tempe.  No backroom deals.

For example, I could point out that there are absolutely critical needs in our senior and elderly community, and many programs for our youth would certainly fit this argument.  Sidebar revenue streams for job creation, parks, alley clean-up or additional neighborhood safety are all, equally valuable discussions, persuasive and valid for vanity taxes.  I would oppose each and every one of those.  In my lengthy experience with taxes, bad policy does not make up for scratching political itches.  It simply remains bad policy.

We need to get away from these “vanity” proposals in Tempe.  They simply reduce the General Fund Revenue stream and tie the hands of future councils whether that particular revenue stream is actually needed at the level it funds or not and in spite of all future exigencies that might arise.  I’ve seen this unfortunate phenomenon, in spite of the best of intentions, with state parks monies devoted to building a certain amount of new trails every year.  When the state went in to the great recession, building new hiking trails had a protected revenue stream even though most any policy maker would have rather not cut so deeply into education funding to balance the budget.  We could have done with a lot more funding for a real crisis, our children’s educational needs, before hacking away in the desert to build a new trail. The more vanity we bring in to our tax structure, the more limitations we have in the future to fairly assess and fund the needs in our community.

An equally important part of your question is the “deal” made with voters.  When we tell voters that a tax will be “temporary” we must not go back on our word.  How can any policy maker then, in the future, especially if dealing with a true crisis in budget management, assures that a “temporary” tax is all we need and the voter says, “yeah, sure, just like the last time.”

Trust is so important, especially in taxation.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, never misrepresent, no matter how popular the cause.  That is not the issue.  So, for example, I don’t need a public opinion survey that says Tempeans support the Tempe Center for the Arts and might consider extending the temporary tax.  My deal is, we told Tempe we wouldn’t do that.  Indeed, politics is not always convenient.  But trust, to me, is not negotiable.  Politics is not always doing what most people want in a snapshot of time.  Leadership is knowing the difference.

And finally, as far as being absolutely committed and a supporter of the TCA Foundation and it’s future endeavors, I’m “all in.”  But this needs to be an effort in harmony with our city budget, our city staff and our community supporters and volunteers, not an admission that we have failed to manage the revenue stream already so generously provided by our taxpayers with the result being, “well, we failed to secure our future with what we received, let’s do this again!”

Robin Arredondo-Savage

The Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA) is a modern art center by Tempe Town Lake with a varied performing arts schedule, gallery, art education and a beautiful special events venue. It is one of my favorite places in Tempe. Our Community Services Department is in the process of creating an Arts Master Plan that will include the TCA. This will be helpful in guiding future operations, programming, marketing and funding to help ensure a healthy and vibrant community arts center.

Our voters passed the initial arts tax, so I support referring a question to the ballot to ask our residents if they want to continue it. However, I believe that both City Council and Staff have a responsibility to first analyze the existing programming, identify new, creative funding streams and look for ways to streamline operations. The Arts can many times be similar to Transportation: they are both usually subsidized to some extent if they are to remain truly viable. In this new day in age though, we have to focus on being more creative when it comes to sources of revenue. Just simply looking to our general fund or asking for new taxes should not be the primary option. Grants and public-private partnerships must be explored to assist with funding. Overall, a true, innovative strategic Arts plan can ensure that the TCA remains a crown jewel for all Tempe residents and visitors for decades to come.

Lauren Kuby

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It’s interesting to note that the City does not make a profit on our parks and recreation, yet budgetary support for the parks is unquestioned. We should also note that Chandler and Mesa have similar sized centers for the arts, and It is uncommon for such centers to be self-sustaining.

Businesses looking to locate in a given city examine at a host of factors, including schools, parks, neighborhoods, and, yes, cultural amenities. Although we need to continually evaluate and improve costs of operation, the net gain and value to our community is worth the cost of supporting TCA’s wide and varied programming.

The number and variety of performances and events at TCA are growing from year to year. In fiscal Year 2014 alone, TCA hosted 919 events attended by over 184K visitors and brought in over $695K in revenue. Here are the metrics:

• 535 performance events (including 129 school matinees)
• 292 business events
• 56 social events
• 36 gallery events
• 100 concerts

A 2012 survey conducted by the Behavior Research Center confirmed the value of TCA’s role in the community and found that most Tempe residents support making permanent the sales tax that funds the TCA. So yes, I would favor a voter-approved extension of the TCA tax if need be.

There is a current RFP out to craft a Master Plan for TCA; it will help our residents to decide upon concrete plans for the generating additional revenue and supporting the arts. With an improving economy and sustainable solutions to consider such as selling the naming rights to create revenue and expanding and enhancing the programming, we may not need to extend the tax. One thing is clear: the arts are essential to Tempe and our growing status as world-class city.

If you have a question please email it to: editor@tempethoughts.com

Tempe Police Arrest Serial Burglars

On 08/11/2014 Tempe Police arrested 18 year old Chris Vega (DOB: 05/07/1996) and 18 year old Noah Cobbs (DOB: 06/30/1996) for multiple counts of residential burglary, attempted burglary, trafficking Stolen Property, and Trespass. This concluded an in depth investigation that began four weeks ago when patrol officers started seeing a burglary trend of second story apartments.


During interviews both suspects they admitted to details of specific burglaries they had committed and details of the apartments they burglarized. Some of the details included the residents they ran into while in these apartments, one sleeping, one showering and one walking through the apartment who then confronted them, causing them to flee.


Both suspects admitted they would target only those apartments that were found to be unsecure and easily accessed.


Investigation also led officer to 18 year old Nathaniel Goudeau (DOB:10/03/1995) who assisted in getting rid of the stolen property. Goudeau was arrested for Trafficking in Stolen Property and Possession of Stolen Property.


This continues to be an ongoing investigation and anybody with more information is asked to contact the Tempe Police Department.

Featured Tempe Listing of The Week

This listing is no longer available.

This loft has a one of a kind custom floor plan and is the largest unit within The Fifth Street Lofts Development. Contemporary details, including exposed red cylinder block, solid wood floors, open steal stairs, stained concrete floor, granite counter-tops, tile showers, clear story open space, Sub Zero appliance package & much more. Attention to detail throughout. Den is being used as third bedroom.


Kiwanis Club of Tempe meet Thursday evening at Spokes for mid-summer happy hour

The Kiwanis Club of Tempe will meet  5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday Aug.14 at Spokes on Southern Neighborhood Grill and Ale House in an informal  happy hour setting.  Dutch treat. We WON’T have our regular  Thursday noon meeting at Shalimar.  This is the third to final Thursday of August and part of our KCOT Summer Meeting Schedule, a test in alternative meetings during the slower summer months, especially to accommodate those members who have challenges of getting away at noon for our regular  meeting.Spokes on Southern


On Aug. 21, we will have a traditional noon meeting with program  (Sister City trip to eastern Europe with Dick Neuheisel and Dennis Ederer speaking and show pictures).  Noon – Shalimar. On Aug.28, we will meet at noon at Shalimar in a round-table gathering. Dutch treat. We return to our regular schedule on Sept. 4.  Penny Pease welcomes speaker and program ideas


The 2013-2014 A-F letter grades have been released by the Arizona Department of Education. The Tempe Union High School District again received the letter grade “A” and for the first time, so did all six of its comprehensive high schools:


“A” Rated


  • Tempe Union High School District (4th year)
  • Corona del Sol High School (4th year)
  • Desert Vista High School (4th year)
  • McClintock High School (4th year)
  • Mountain Pointe High School (2nd year)
  • Tempe High School (2nd year)
  • Marcos de Niza High School (1st year)


This is the fourth year of the state letter grades, which are one measure of a school’s achievement and indicate the Tempe Union High School District and its schools demonstrated an “excellent” level of performance.

Each TUHSD school showed higher academic growth than the state median. This is the first time Marcos de Niza has received the “A” rating. Improvement in AIMS scores and overall growth were factors.

“We are proud of the work our schools have done to either maintain their “A” grade or improve their grade to an “A” without compromising the rigor of our instructional program. We will continue to grow and improve in our mission of excellence in teaching and learning,” said Tempe Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca.

Compadre Academy, Tempe Union’s only alternative school, received a letter grade of “C-Alt” and was evaluated using the alternative school accountability model.

ASU Gammage Announces its 50th Anniversary Season


Tempe, AZ— In September 2014, ASU Gammage will kick off its 50th anniversary with a series of special events and programs. The celebratory calendar of events will include a blockbuster 14/15 Broadway season, world-renowned artists, FREE events and exclusive anniversary performances.

Fifty years ago, ASU Gammage opened its doors and has grown into a top cultural destination in the Valley. The Frank Lloyd Wright designed performing arts center located on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University is one of the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world, home to the Desert Schools Broadway Across America—Arizona and BEYOND series.  ASU Gammage’s mission of Connecting CommunitiesTM  goes beyond the stage and the programs and impacts the community through shared experiences in the arts.

“ASU Gammage’s 50th anniversary is a time to celebrate the best of the last 50 years and to cheer on our plans for the next 50 years,” says Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director.  “With a terrific Broadway and BEYOND series planned, we are also most excited to open the building to the public on Sunday, September 28, so everyone can celebrate with us.”

On September 28, ASU Gammage will host an Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will include complimentary birthday cake and refreshments, building tours, free performances and more.

The 50th anniversary Desert Schools Broadway Across America—Arizona series will include the Tony Award add TM-winning hits like KINKY BOOTS and PIPPIN as well as two shows that changed the Broadway touring business and two of ASU Gammage’s most successful shows in history THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and WICKED. The 15-week Broadway series is expected to bring in more than $100 million of economic impact into Tempe and the Valley.

The following performances, which will be publically announced on March 17, 2014:

•             Kinky Boots

•             Pippin

•             Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

•             Dirty Dancing

•             Cinderella

•             Motown The Musical

•             The Phantom of the Opera

Specials Engagements:

•             Chicago

•             Wicked

The BEYOND series for 2014/2015 will also be announced on March 17, 2014.  This eclectic boutique arts series will have some of the greatest artists to ever perform in the series return to celebrate the anniversary including the ASU Symphony and School of Music who will perform a tribute to the 1964 inaugural concert that featured Eugene Ormandy & The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. Former ASU Gammage Residency artist Daniel Bernard Roumian (DBR) will return to perform a program including his eclectic signature compositions with an All Star Arizona High School Symphony. The Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to bring their distinctive style and grace to the ASU Gammage stage. The series will also feature Phillip Glass and guest pianists performing A Celebration of his full 20 Piano Etudes as well as Kota Yamazaki and the Fluid Hug Hug Dance Company.

“ The 50th Anniversary season will have something for everyone, we hope the community we will join as we celebrated some of the greatest performers and shows to have ever graced our stage as well as celebrate this iconic Frank Lloyd Wright design as it celebrates its Golden Anniversary,” says Colleen Jennings- Roggensack.

A fabulous fair of local artisans, music & fashion!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 * noon to 3:00 p.m.
Outside along the est side of College Ave.
Plenty of FREE parking in the back!

julie kent









An Afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium

 A crisp breeze stirs the soft murmur of the crowd.

 The smell and shape of perfectly cut grass matched against ad covered padded walls and that infield dirt crafted ever so effortlessly rattles the senses. Ambiance is normality, the sun’s warmth is welcomed and smiling faces fill the air.

This isn’t just a baseball game. This is a good time to be had, a moment to enjoy, an event to experience. This is spring training baseball, and damn is it fun.


Tempe Diablo Stadium, located off West Alameda Drive near the Maricopa Freeway, is a great place to catch spring training. TDS has been the spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 1991 and once housed the (now defunct) Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers, and Seattle Mariners. Fans can make their way to the stadium with ease, either by car or through a terrific trolley service on Mill Avenue.


Spring training is major league talent in a minor league atmosphere, and the Tempe Diablo experience exemplifies that. The stadium houses a respectable 9,315 fans and has a large lawn area beginning behind the centerfield wall and extending towards left field into foul territory. The field, a beautiful bermuda grass playing surface, is exceptional. The first row is right along the fenceline throughout the park, leaving little room between athlete and spectator.


Though the selection doesn’t even begin to rival the numerous culinary options found at Scottsdale Stadium (San Francisco Giants) or the Chicago Cubs’ new spring fortress in Mesa, the food at Tempe Diablo does the job. A trip to concessions can bring one anything from a classic hot dog to a mini helmet full of nachos. Chicken and beef tacos are also available, as well as both bratwurst and polish sausages. Unfortunately for fans, the prices are all at big league level. Pack your own sunflower seeds, unless you want to pay a king’s ransom for a miniscule bag.


Seating is not an issue. Every seat is a good one and is not too far away from the concessions, bathrooms, or game. A 20 million dollar renovation in 2006 turned the 44 year old ballpark into a modern complex, fit for baseball lovers and professionals alike.


At Tempe Diablo, the lawn seats are the place to be. Sitting on the lawn costs less, puts you right on top of the action and is not too far away from the food and drink dispensaries. Vendors hawk peanuts and cotton candy just as they would in any other section. The whole game is out in front of you, and yelling things at the outfielders is always fun. If you’re looking for value, the decision is simple. Take a towel out to left field, plop down and get your tan on.


Spring training comes around once a year, and is a valuable opportunity to see the greatest talents in baseball in a relaxed, local setting. Thanks to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Arizonians can catch some of the game’s greats in an exemplary setting here in Tempe.


Tempe events this week–2014 Arizona Dragon Boat Festival

Arizona Dragon Boat Festival

St. Patrick’s celebrations, Arizona Dragon Boat Festival, a brand new Childsplay production—these are just a smattering of all the terrific arts, culture and entertaining events taking place this week in Tempe. Add all this to our beautiful weather plus more spring training games and it’s a great week to be in Tempe.Visit the Tempe Tourism Office Calendar of Events, or call 480-894-8158 to view a complete listing of Tempe events.


Phoenix Chamber Music festival concert at TCA

Clarinetist David Shifrin, performer and festival artistic director

Clarinetist David Shifrin, performer and festival artistic director

The fifth annual Phoenix Chamber Music Society Festival will hold a performance at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Friday, March 21, at 7:30 pm. David Shifrin, festival artistic director and clarinetist, will be joined by flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, violinists Ani Kavafian and Arnaud Sussman, violist Yura Lee, cellist Mihai Marica, pianist Mary Pendletono Hoffer and students from Yale University.  

The concert will present a blend of music and the spoken word with Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale.” Narrators include Michael Dixon, KTAR radio host, and Terry Goddard, former mayor of Phoenix and Attorney General of Arizona. The program also features Camille Saint-Saen’s “Carnival of the Animals.” 

Tickets are $50 through the TCA Box Office at 480-350-2822, www.tempe.gov/tca. The TCA is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. Student tickets at $10 are also available by phone only through the TCA Box Office. 

The Phoenix Chamber Music Society is in its 53rd season of bringing chamber music to the Valley. Season concerts are held at Camelback Bible Church located at 3900 East Stanford Drive in Paradise Valley. For more concert information: www.phoenixchambermusicsociety.org