I Do Not Support The Net Metering/APS Proposal

Tempe City Council has not taken a stand on net metering.  Net metering is a pending proposal by APS to add a $60+ fee for new residential solar customers.  Like abortion, immigration, or a host of other State and Federal issues, it is appropriate that city government, as a body, not take a stand.  However, as an individual, I certainly have an opinion.  I do not support the APS proposal.  There is quite a bit of rhetoric about this proposal so, before I explain my opinion, I feel I should explain the proposal.

APS argues there are three costs to power; the fuel, the transmission lines, and the power plant.  Now, let’s say you get solar installed.  During the day when you aren’t home and the sun is shining your meter spins backwards.  You give power to APS.  At night you are home and the sun is down.  The meter spins forward and you take power from APS.  At the end of the day you’ve given as much power as you’ve gotten so, based on power usage, your usage bill is effectively $0.  APS bills you nothing, but still has to pay for the transmission lines and power plant that took power from you during the day and delivered it to you at night.  However, your net usage is zero, so APS can’t bill you.

APS says the cost of the power lines and power plant is about $1,000 per customer per year.  There are 18,000 solar customers; thus $18 million is lost revenue.  Who makes up the loss?  Other power users make up the loss to a tune of, on average, $1.33 per user per month.  APS thinks the solar user should pay this $1,000 instead, but with fewer people to distribute the cost to, the fee would be roughly $80 per month.  APS says this is about fairness, but APS misses the point.

First, an $80 monthly solar fee would kill new solar in Arizona.  Second, APS fails to take into account the new plants and expanded transmission lines it would not, over time, need to build.  Third, APS fails to mention that solar users are giving power when APS most needs it, and taking it when APS least needs it, thus smoothing out peak demand times.

Assuming APS’s numbers are correct*, at a basic level the question is simple; am I will to pay, or charge others, $1.33 per month to allow solar to thrive and to support the secondary benefits it provides?  Am I willing to pay $1.33/month for clean air and to promote jobs (and an industry) we know must be part of our future?  Yes.

No doubt, there will come a day when 180,000 users are on solar and the bill per remaining customer will be $13.30 per month.  At that time it may very well be worth discussing a solar user fee.  At that time solar will be a more mature industry and the burden to remaining users will be greater.  At that point, rather than discussing killing an industry we will be talking about fairness.  However, now is not that time, and that time is years, if not more than a decade, away.

* I have used numbers from APS for purposes of my illustrations; however, there is conflicting research on if APS’s numbers are correct, or inflated.

Multi-Mode Transportation

Land is a finite resource.  Every country and community in the world will run out of it given a long enough timeline.  Or, at the very least, the barriers to making the land habitable will rise to a point that is infinitely cost prohibitive.  One only need look at Manhattan, San Francisco, or Singapore to see the end game.  Or, look at the stretch of freeway between Los Angeles and San Diego to understand the middle view that leads to the end game.

The question is what do we do now so that when this future certain date comes, we have created the most habitable environment to work, live, and raise children?  In my opinion, the solution is taking active steps to preserve open space, to create false barriers that limit sprawl, and to create economic models that make upward growth the relatively less expensive alternative.

This density model, however, is in direct conflict with the car culture that currently exists.  Try driving in Los Angeles and you will immediately know what I mean.  As buildings go higher, freeways must become ever wider until, finally, no freeway is wide enough.  Los Angeles has 14 lane freeways that are parking lots, even on weekends.  The “Big Dig” in Boston proved to be a largely cost prohibitive and logistical nightmare of putting seven miles of freeway underground.

This leaves only one option, cities with robust public transportation, dedicated bike lanes, and walkable communities of mixed use (stores on the first floor, condos and office space above) buildings.  This also means the planning and subsidization of these projects, by government.  All transportation is subsidized.  The gas tax pays for road repairs and construction.  Government uses its power of eminent domain to buy land from individuals and build freeways.  The true cost of gas, through pollution, is cost shifted from the user to society as a whole.

Tempe, in large part, has embraced this model for the future.  Tempe recently ranked 18th in the nation on a list of most bike friendly cities in the world.  (Scottsdale was 15th, Tucson was 12th.)  Most of the development planned for north of Broadway Road are mixed use buildings of some height.  Tempe is a regional leader in promoting public transportation via the Orbit busses, bussing in general, and light rail.  I am not arguing desire, I am arguing scale.  Cleary, there is a sustained effort and understanding in Tempe among some for a bike-able, walk-able, community.  But, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Being the tallest jockey in the room isn’t saying much.”  We can do better.

Truthfully, I have not yet settled on the details of the best ways to help Tempe be a more livable city, both now and in the future.  I have ideas…some of which may be right, some of which may be wrong, and some of which may change over time as new information is gathered.  It is, frankly, too early on to discuss details, but I did want to at least set out the philosophy that informs my decisions.

And finally, while the purpose of this paper is not the interplay between urban growth and established suburban communities, I want to at least briefly address this, lest someone think I am advocating for density creep into single family home areas.  I am not.

There is a critical respect that must be given to the general plan and to those that have bought and paid for a suburban lifestyle with the expectation it will remain for the rest of their lives.  It is the height of disrespect to disrupt that existing choice; to breach that sacred promise of community continuity, and that is not something I would ever vote to do.

I invite you to email me your thoughts about multi-mode transportation, the balance between urban and suburban needs, and the best methods to “future proof” our community and the valley.

Elected Official Compensation

Now that I have been sworn in the issue of elected official compensation has been on my mind.  First, to set the record straight on what I receive for being elected to Tempe City Council.

For serving on Council, I am paid $27,747 per year.  I was offered a parking space, but declined.  I was offered an internet connection at home, but declined. I was offered health insurance, but declined because the health insurance at my regular job is, frankly, better.  I was offered dental and vision, and accepted, because the dental and vision at my work is not better.  I was never offered a car allowance.  I was never offered an all access pass to golf (or any other city service) or a cell phone, although I’m told they may be available.  Frankly, I have no real interest in these things, so I didn’t even ask about them.  I tried to decline the State pension, but am required by law to accept it.  I was offered an iPad, but declined it for now.  However, I may later accept it if it makes me a better council member and saves the city money on paper.

I have thus far refused the city paying for registrations, like my entry fee to the Arizona League of City’s and Towns.  Registration personally cost me over $200.  However, if it turns out it is a valuable thing for the city, I am willing to have the city pay it next year.  Just want to see for myself first before deciding who should pay.  My rule of thumb is I will not accept the city paying for events, and I will not accept anything that a “typical” city employee would not receive.

My belief on elected official compensation is actually quite simple.  Being an elected official should be a full time, but temporary, job.  Being an elected official should not be a career.  After eight years George Washington went home and that is why, in my opinion, America did not develop a history of dictatorships.  Incumbents have an outstanding re-election advantage, both in fundraising, and name ID, particularly at lower levels of government.  Incumbents might tell themselves “If the people aren’t happy with me, they will vote me out,” but that isn’t really all that true.  The better thing to say would be, “If I can stay out of the scandal side of the paper (and I don’t buck the powers that be), the people won’t notice or care enough to vote me out.”

Rule #1.  Regardless of how cool I think I am, regardless of how much I will miss giving up the limelight, regardless of how much I think I am the only one who can lead the community to a brighter future…I should go home!  I should serve, then leave.

The larger issue though, and the one most people don’t want to talk about is, it is really hard to be a full time elected official on part time pay.  Do not hide compensation behind allowances or specialty line items.  Tell people everything you are paying elected officials, but pay them a reasonable amount.  Pay them enough to remove the temptation of elected officials to want handouts from special interests.

You do, in fact, get what you pay for.  I have a B.A. in Education, a M.Ed. in Educational Technology, and a law degree.  I haven’t worked at a job that paid $27,000 a year since I was 23 years old.

It is unrealistic to think I am going to walk away from my full time lawyer job to work full time for $27,000 a year now.  So, what does that mean?  It means you get people that can afford to work for $27,000 a year.  It means you get people who’s jobs provide them a certain degree of income, while providing them a certain degree of free time and scheduling flexibility.  These are great people who care (of course) a great deal about the community, but not exactly a group of people that represent all the diversity in our communities.

Rule #2.  You get what you pay for, so pay more, but do it in a transparent way.  Simple and clean.

So, to sum up my opinion on this issue…  Have a full time job.  Leave your full time job to serve your community as an elected official.  Be paid (in a transparent way) for your elected position like it is a full time job, and treat it like a full time job.  Then, go back to your real life and your original full time job.

Continuing Policy Papers

Continuing Policy Papers

By:  Kolby Granville

During the 2012 City Council campaign I did something, I believe, that was unique.  I wrote dozens of detailed policy papers about my opinions on various city issues.  These were detailed and reasoned discussions, with links, and with concrete ideas.  I was told it would turn off voters, to “stay away from details,” and that it would lose me the election.  I was elected.  It is my intention to continue to write policy papers while I am in office about various Tempe issues.

There are many downsides to continuing to write policy papers.  First, my opinion can, and does, change.  The last thing I want is to say, “I think X” in a policy paper and then, as additional information comes to light, feel like I am forced to keep my initial opinion.  Also, the last thing I want is for someone to say, “In your policy paper you said you thought X, and then you voted Y.  You lied in your policy paper!”  Writing is fixed in time, opinions are not.  Also, policies are in the general, but council votes are in the specific instance.  Please be understanding.

There is a more political reason why writing policy papers are not a good idea; it gives others the opportunity to “count votes.”  I know, politics should not work that way, but it does.  The last thing you want is to say, “I don’t support X” in a policy paper, then have your phone ring off the hook by people saying the sky will fall if you ever vote that way.  If, on the other hand, you just “smile and nod,” nobody ever calls about what-if scenarios.  To be clear, my purpose isn’t to talk about pending council issues, but to talk about overarching policy principles.

Another reason not to continue writing policy papers is it makes people nervous.  If someone says to me, “Kolby, I know the real reason X is happening is because of Y, and not for the publically stated reason…”  Well, I’m not going to talk in my policy paper about the false, publically stated, reasons, I’m going to talk about the real reasons I support or don’t support X as a matter of overarching policy.  But, the concern is, people will shy away.  All politics is local, and nothing  is more local than a person inferring you are talking about things they work on or care about.

That is a long list of reasons why this is a bad idea.  And yet, I’m going to do it anyway, for a simple reason.  I believe in the maturity of Tempe residents to understand issues at a deeper level, and I believe that the keystone of democracy is well reasoned, respectful, discourse.  If these policy papers add to a larger ongoing discourse in a sophisticated manner, their job is done.  If writing things out helps me better understand how I feel about a topic, all the better.

I hope those reading future policy papers can understand that, and respect my choice.

* * *

I should mention, while my opinions, over time, may change, I will resist the temptation to go back and re-write policy papers.  I may correct spelling/grammar errors, and I may write supplemental policy papers as opinions change, but I will not go back and “revise history.”

I should also mention, I will not write about, or name by name, people in these policy papers.  The purpose is to outline big picture ideas, not to gossip or otherwise take part in the failings of idle hands…   ~Kolby

Thank You Message From Kolby Granville

After the election, I received more emails, texts, voicemails, tweets, and other forms of communication than I could ever respond to, so I thought I would write one letter to everyone and take a long overdue rest.

First, while the results are unofficial, the pending results are Foreman with 8,578 votes (41.37%) and me with 10,649 votes (51.36%).  Foreman has, at this point, conceded the race and called to congratulate me.  So, I’m calling this race a win.

I would like to talk briefly about my opponent, Dick Foreman.  A good friend of mine told me once, “Government is not a Disney movie, there aren’t simply good guys and bad guys.”  I couldn’t agree more.  While there may be a tendency in a competitive race to make people out as “good guys” and “bad guys” I can say, without question, that Dick Foreman is not a bad guy, and I will be the first to defend him against anyone who says otherwise.  He ran a strong race, he ran an honest race, he ran an issue based race, and he genuinely cares about Tempe.  Cleary, there were issues where we disagreed, (reasonable minds sometimes disagree) but that does not diminish my respect for his very sincere efforts and long history to better his community and to move the ball forward for future generations.

Next, I would like to thank all those who worked on my campaign.  In rough numbers, there were almost 1000 people who, through one form or another, helped out on my campaign.  Together, we knocked on 36,000 doors, made almost 100,000 phone call attempts (not robo-calls!), sent out 100,000 pieces of mail, and sent out over 15,000 personal letters inviting Tempe residents to meet me at my house.  In the final measure, I am only a symbol.  It is easy to be a symbol.  It is all of you who did the real work, day in and day out, and made the campaign a success.  And to each and every one of you, as well as each financial contributor, I want to say thank you.  You have given me the chance to put thought into action for a better Tempe as your next council member.

And finally, for those who did not hear my campaign night speech, I want to reiterate the four promises I made in my speech that will provide my lighthouse in the next four years of continuing council storms:

(1) I will always view the position as a platform for change, not a springboard for another position.  (2) I will always speak my mind, and I will always vote my conscience.  (3) I will draft and propose concrete changes to the way the city does business when I believe it is to the betterment of residents.  (4) I will always remember the only people I am sworn to serve, are the people of Tempe.

And in four years, if all that I have said and done is right, the words of those against me will mean nothing, and if I am wrong, a thousand angels professing my good intentions will matter not…

~Kolby Granville

Granville Gives Final Campaign Speech (Video Link)

Tempe Council Candidate Kolby Granville gave his final Tempe Channel 11 campaign speech.  In his speech he addresses special interest money, negative campaigning, his goals as a council member, and a special interaction with a Tempe resident.

Watch the complete video here.

Granville on Rental Housing in Tempe (Video)

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/_06Rko9_eMc

At a recent debate, Council Candidate Kolby Granville discussed rental housing and code enforcement in Tempe.  You can watch the video here.

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/_06Rko9_eMc

Read Granville Policy Papers

If you are the type of person who likes more detailed information about a candidate, you can learn it!  The link to learn how Kolby Granville stands on a variety of city issues is below.  Don’t see the issue you are interested in, email Kolby at kolbyg@yahoo.com

Click HERE to learn more.

Granville on Tax Incentives for Business (Video)

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/-6DgdjDnNpM

At a recent debate, Council Candidate Kolby Granville discussed tax incentives to attract new business, and the right ways to do it so as to support current local business.  You can watch the video here.

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/-6DgdjDnNpM

Granville Explains Tempe Charter Amendment (Video)

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/p_JafiOPNQQ

The current Tempe race has a ballot amendment to the Charter related to campaigns.  At a recent debate, Council Candidate Kolby Granville explains the proposition, and gives his opinion about its relative merits.  You can watch the video here.

Video Link:  http://youtu.be/p_JafiOPNQQ