20 April 2018

True Story: City Officials + Real Estate Developers Get Stung in FBI Undercover Investigation

Your MesaZona blogger missed 'the buzz' about this one sent by an unidentified source from August of last year, but did bookmark it for future reference just in case too many similar coincidences tended to bumble together and start to get sticky here. Let's get it all out and on the table.
There's one difference though - things just don't get sticky here in Mesa when you have the same group of people and friends-in-high places acting as a monopoly in almost everything including government and politics, the media, finance, insurance and real estate in multiple jurisdictions. 
They've run the show for generations. The public doesn't care, getting effectively un-engaged and not involved.
That's easy-to-do when no one cares. When someone does care, gets interested and starts asking questions, there's always a way to deal with it: keep it off the radar screen, create a fog around it, or make it a non-issue somehow. . .  or say 'it's just the way-we-do-things' until the game gets disrupted or busted-up.
Much too frequently, entrenched corruption has a self-perpetuating life of its own for the chosen few with the right friends-and-family affiliations.
Add religion to the mix and the faithful benefit.
The tattle-tale of two cities (the other name of one is revealed farther on in this post) involves what you see in the inserted image to the left: money, real estate, city officials and city government.
Now remember that the City of Mesa formed an Ad Hoc Downtown Vision Committee whose members were nominated by Mayor John Giles to create a vision for the transformation of downtown. What we got instead are unsolicited developer proposals.
Reference Points: Site 17, Brown & Brown Chevrolet/Auto Nation, Community Facilities Districts, Bogus ASU Satellite Campus in 2016 General Election, Southwest RDA + Expansion into Central Business District + GPLETS, Recent MOUs and IGAs with Unsolicited Developer Proposals, Innovation Districts and Opportunity Zones, Land Annexations by The City of Mesa
The story line for the other city goes like this - let's call it 'The Honey-Trap' set by the FBI.
1. A rich developer comes to town willing to spend millions to revitalize downtown as the city ached to rebrand itself as a place open for business, spinning his grand plans to redevelop under-used blocks of land in the shadow of a major existing asset.
2. He met with local city officials, hot-shot developers, burgeoning ranks of up-and-coming entrepreneurs all the time wooing the town’s politicians over lunches and dinners.
3. He got into what appears to be a massive, multi-year investigation of local politicians, their friends and millions of dollars in taxpayer redevelopment money. In the crosshairs may be some of the state's most ambitious political climbers, including its mayor, who has his sights set on the Governor’s Mansion.
4. Whispers of corruption - and 'Crony-Capitalism' and 'The Old Boys' Network - are commonplace in the one-degree-of-separation governments in between adjoining cities and towns, teeming with the loyal faithful, lobbyists and public relations firms, academic professors and political sophisticates, where local officials can barely keep an arms-length from those who seek to influence them. Over the years, rumored FBI investigations have come and gone without any charges.
5. Public corruption is the FBI’s chief criminal investigative priority and is something it does very well; they've got the money, resources and agents to do it and the people who understand the crime. Local governments are more vulnerable to corruption, because there are fewer eyes watching. Payments typically don’t need to go through the same approval process required at the state and federal level.
6. Really corrupt politicians deal in straight cash, but many others are willing to sell votes or other government services for surprisingly little money, and can involve city contracts, jobs, campaign contributions,appointments to boards and commissions that approve actions and membership in the Chamber of Commerce.
7. One boots-on-the-ground FBI tactic > Undercover agents are taught to ask questions and present problems for suspects to solve. The developer wanted to build outside the local redevelopment zone - who could help him get the boundaries expanded?
8. Many liaisons were facilitated by a local lobbyist, as well as others with county and city officials . . . Following years of meetings and input from government planners, the FBI sting operation got what it wanted - the redevelopment agency, made up of members of both the city and the county commissions, voted on an in-the-works plan to expand - as it happened, incorporating the land he sought to develop.
9. Some of most prominent politicians the city has ever produced are the most likely to feel political ramifications of the FBI investigation.
10. Many targets of the FBI Sting: people and companies that have been ethical thorns, campaign managers and treasurers, friends and family who reaped financial windfalls getting millions in public money to redevelop old city buildings, and groups of mostly-secret private investors mixing business, politics and friendship.
The city was accustomed to talk of the feds coming to town. Both the former mayor and school superintendent were investigated by the FBI in recent years. Nothing came of either case. . . .But in a town where cozy relationships and intertwined business interests have long fueled corruption conspiracy theories, the wide scope of the latest probe suggests it’s not a matter of if, but when charges will come down.   > He turned out-to-be an FBI agent who had a 25-member staff including undercover agents, intelligence analysts, an airplane, covert vehicles, surveillance equipment and investigative techniques

FBI agents went undercover in Florida's capital for the 'biggest investigation in years'
by Sean Rossman  Published 4:31 p.m. ET Aug. 14, 2017 | Updated 12:22 p.m. ET Aug. 16, 2017

East Valley bribery indictment may be tip of iceberg, feds say
"Federal prosecutors are offering to tell East Valley defendants in the Corporation Commission bribery case who and what else they’re investigating – but only if they agree not to share that information with anyone else.
The proposal, made in a new court filing, comes as attorneys for former utility regulator and former Mesa legislator Gary Pierce, his wife Sherry, lobbyist Jim Norton, and Pinal County water company owner George Johnson seek details of the FBI inquiry that led to their indictment in May on multiple federal charges. The lawyers say they need that information to prepare their defense for the Oct. 3 trial
. . . But in communications with defense attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Battista, who is leading the legal team, said he does not want to tip off those other targets – targets that could include not only other current or former members of the Arizona Corporation Commission but potentially executives at Arizona Public Service Co. . . "
Link > http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/arizona/politics/east-valley-bribery-indictment-may-be-tip-of-iceberg-feds/article_637acd10-7180-11e7-8737-b78bf4674a65.html

However, 'business-as-usual' in another city got disrupted


What's Next Mesa? Mesa City Hall Hiring For Community Wealth Building??

Let's put Mesa Mayor John Giles in-the-saddle and in the spotlight for this post and ask what he might be doing to include everyone in wealth building . . .is it just for a selected few in the upper 10% or 1% upper-income levels or so-called 'angel investors' throwing money into holding companies or swooping down on distressed areas for redevelopment or innovation or when nearly those who have-less and almost all minorities too often fall into an "Opportunity Gap" in so-called "Opportunity Zones" to suffer from unemployment or are pushed into low quality, service-sector jobs that don’t give them the opportunity that they need.
QUESTION: In next year's budget planning is there a strategic policy decision and funding for Community Wealth Building?
Here in Mesa we get AZ State Senator Bob Worsley, rarely seen in public, coming out as a private real estate deal-maker and speculator who's been working behind-the-scenes for years with close cohorts, 'friends-and-family' buying up multiple properties on Main Street to effectively get monopoly control of the real estate market downtown during the past few years making unsolicited developer proposals.
In some cities like Richmond, Virginia, there's an Office of Community Wealth Building, the first of its kind in the nation. . . a wave of cities are now responding with new dedicated government offices or programming for community wealth building, starting in the rest of Virginia.
Here in downtown Mesa - referred to in this blog as 'The Old Donut-Hole', we get Mayor John Giles with a group who have set up a wealth creation investment fund for the few, joined by W Tim Sprague at the left who's a partner with Worsley and Worsley's AZ State House campaign manager Kent Lyons in holding companies, to transform downtown into their own vision of delivering capital gains. Two years ago, taxpayers rejected paying for their ploys. Now it's a gamble and a risk
“The first step is to call it out, . . . This isn’t fictional. Sixty years ago, there was intentionality around redlining and segregation that led to concentrated poverty. And here we are in 2018 receiving the byproduct of those intentional decisions …   
It’s up to us to be just as intentional about solving these problems.”
City Halls Now Hiring for Community Wealth Building
". . . Being intentional about what to do and who are the beneficiaries can mean combining new and old techniques for understanding how to build community wealth with the necessary intentionality. The Richmond office uses its social media presence on Facebook to facilitate conversations between constituents on topics addressing racial discrimination in housing and voting rights. They also offer an open-ended, constituent-driven weekly conference call listening session, where any resident can call in and discuss issues ranging from living conditions in public housing to the difficulties of finding a job . . .
Gordon says this community engagement helps his office move beyond the paternalism that often hinders equitable policy-making. “I wanted to add the voice of the people on a consistent basis — anyone can call,” says Gordon. “We know that people understand that if they want to express how things are going, they can speak with us … We need to trust them.”
. . . Elsewhere in New York, similar programming is underway. In New York City, the Department of Consumer Affairs recently expanded its Office of Financial Empowerment’s Community Wealth Building programming to increase the financial health and quality of life of New Yorkers with low- and moderate-incomes. . .
“This means working collaboratively to support community partners and residents and to create more opportunities for inclusive ownership for all New Yorkers,”
READ MORE > Next City 13 April 2018 
Aaron Ross Coleman is a freelance writer from Atlanta, focused on the intersection of economics and racial inequality. Based in New York, he is a Marjorie Deane Fellow at New York University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Aaron has his B.A. in Political Science from Fort Valley State University. His work has appeared in CNBC, Rewire News, The Huffington Post, and other publications.


18 April 2018



Addressing the Opportunity Gap: How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affects People and Places

The event IS STREAMING LIVE NOW  from this page >
Registration is not required to view the webcast.
> online audience can submit questions to events@urban.org.
Join the Urban Institute and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) for a discussion about how changes enacted through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 could affect the resources available to families and communities seeking to bridge the opportunity gap. We will explore
  • the short-term and long-term impacts on family incomes and on the behavior of small and large businesses with respect to investing in their workforce;
  • the legislation’s impact on the ability of investors, municipalities, and nonprofits to provide resources to revitalize neighborhoods and help families escape poverty; and
  • the prospects of the new “Opportunity Zones” tax incentive for investing in low-income communities.
Speakers include

  • Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (AL-7)
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum
  • Chye-Ching Huang, Deputy Director, Federal Tax Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Maurice Jones, President and CEO, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Brian T. Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Washington, DC 
  • Mark Mazur, Director, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
  • Kim Rueben, Senior Fellow and Project Director, State and Local Finance Initiative, Urban Institute
  • Jerry Rickett, President and CEO, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation
  • Brett Theodos, Principal Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute
  • Jane Campbell, Director, Washington, DC Office of the National Development Council (moderator)
  • Jeanne Sahadi, Senior Writer, CNNMoney (moderator)
event materials 

New Exhibition @ Mesa Arts Center: Positive Impact

Veterans and active-duty service members showcase artwork

For immediate release: April 17, 2018
Mesa Arts Center to Showcase Artwork by Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members
Arts in Service program offers free arts classes for veterans and active service members
Media Contact:
Casey Blake
Please Note:
Those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP by emailing engagement@mesaartscenter.com, or by calling 480-644-6564.

This art exhibition is the culmination of the positive impact this program has on our heroes by providing an outlet to deal with PTSD and a like-minded community to help them successfully reintegrate into society and the workforce.”

Blogger Note: On 06 November 2017 Cindy Ornstein, Executive Director of Mesa Arts Center had this to say:
"We are so excited to develop our programs to further engage those who serve our country," . . . There is tremendous evidence from both research and experience that the arts offer many kinds of therapeutic benefits, from reducing feelings of isolation to providing new means of self-expression, in addition to offering fun, relaxation, and creative exploration."
(Mesa, AZ) Mesa Arts Center (MAC) will host a free exhibition of artwork by veterans and active-duty service members on May 4, 5-7 p.m. in the Drawing and Painting Studio at MAC, a culminating event to celebrate the work of participants in the Arts in Service program. The program, which is generously supported by a grant from The Boeing Company, provides creative pathways for veterans and active duty service members to use studio arts experiences in reaching their personal goals, whether those are finding a supportive community, stress relief, working toward overall health and wellness, or pursuing career interests in art making.
 “The Arts in Service program is valuable for many reasons,” said United States Air Force Veteran and Arts in Service participant, Caryn Walsh. “Being in a group of veterans who share the experience of military service is indescribable. Seeing my peers with service-related injuries, and stresses alongside me means many things. Not having to explain my experiences which define me and are, frankly, unrelatable to the majority of Americans is a relief... I feel comfortable to learn what I can, at my own speed.” 
 To date, nearly 70 individuals have participated in Arts in Service arts classes offered through the program.
Classes include welding, ceramics, watercolor, jewelry and flameworking.
Work created by the program participants will be on display during the exhibition.  
 “Boeing is proud to support our veterans and active military members in Arizona by investing in community programs such as Arts in Service,” said Boeing Arizona Community Investor Mary Baldwin.

> Those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP by emailing engagement@mesaartscenter.com, or by calling 480-644-6564.
The Mesa Arts Center mission is to inspire people through engaging arts experiences that are diverse, accessible, and relevant. Owned and operated by the City of Mesa, Arizona’s largest arts center is recognized as an international award-winning venue. The unique and architecturally stunning facility is home to four theaters, five art galleries, and 14 art studios and an artist cooperative gallery. For more information, visit
The Arizona Coalition for Military Families is a nationally-recognized public/private partnership focused on building Arizona’s statewide capacity to care for and support all service members, veterans and their families. For more information, visit arizonacoalition.org.
Mesa Arts Center is a partner organization on the Military/Veteran Resource Network, in partnership with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.
Through purposeful investments, employee engagement and thoughtful advocacy efforts, Boeing and its employees support innovative partnerships and programs that align with our strategic objectives, create value and help build better communities worldwide. This includes improving access to globally competitive learning as well as workforce and skills development, and supporting our military and veteran communities. In 2017, Boeing and its employees contributed more than $167 million to improve communities across the globe.
Casey Blake
Director of Public Relations
Mesa Arts Center
Office 480.644.6620Cell 480.390.1258


The New Investment Landscape: So Much To Cover!

Here ya go > Multifamily Executive Magazine April 2018                
Multifamily Executive Magazine April 2018 April 2018 Table of Contents

Corner Office
Rent Control Takes Center Stage Again Corner OfficeRent Control Takes Center Stage Again The NMHC sees a new era of battling the controversial policy. Read more
Check In
MAD Architects Completes Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing  Multifamily ExecutiveMAD Architects Completes Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing Mixed-use complex introduces classical Chinese landscape forms to urban core. Read more
Aston Martin Residences Unveiled Multifamily ExecutiveAston Martin Residences Unveiled New renderings show off the 66-story luxury tower in Miami. Read more
Class A Cleveland Mid-Rise Eschews High Density, Hits Several Price Points New DevelopmentsClass A Cleveland Mid-Rise Eschews High Density, Hits Several Price Points NRP’s Edison at Gordon Square is in vibrant arts district. Read more
New and Noteworthy Services for Property Managers Multifamily ExecutiveNew and Noteworthy Services for Property Managers Platforms, software, and more from RealPage, HappyCo, others. Read more
Top 100 Student Housing Properties by Online Reputation for 2017 Multifamily ExecutiveTop 100 Student Housing Properties by Online Reputation for 2017 More than 85% of students use online reviews to search for an apartment. Read more
Rebuilding Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria Multifamily ExecutiveRebuilding Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria Multifamily players draw on resilience to rebuild the island's housing. Read more
Get Ready for Hurricane Season! Natural DisastersGet Ready for Hurricane Season! Here's what to do to prepare your communities for the next natural disaster. Read more
The New Multi: Developers Bet Big on Multigenerational Floor Plans Multifamily Executive The New Multi: Developers Bet Big on Multigenerational Floor Plans As the makeup and wants of households evolve, savvy developers are expanding their unit sizes to accommodate the broadening renter pool. Read more
The Tax Bill's Impact on Multifamily Apartment Finance TodayThe Tax Bill's Impact on Multifamily The industry avoids major changes under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Read moredcbyyywavxufbwvxweyatutby
Investors Set Sights on Older Seniors Multifamily Executive Investors Set Sights on Older Seniors Investors bullish on potential for growth in CCR communities over next few decades. Read more
Why Private and Institutional Investment Is the Future of Affordable Housing Preservation
Affordable Housing Why Private and Institutional Investment Is the Future of Affordable Housing Preservation The affordable sector allows investors to align profits with social goals. Read more

17 April 2018

FBI Sought 'Papers Of The President' In Michael Cohen Searches | Rachel ...

Published on Apr 17, 2018
Rachel Maddow highlights a portion of the transcript of Monday's Michael Cohen court hearing in which lawyers explain that a document that has not been released to the public includes five paragraphs about seeking papers of the president of the United States which are in Cohen's possession.
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FBI Sought 'Papers Of The President' In Michael Cohen Searches | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Wildlife Update: Owls stare into office window - "Roosters made NO morni...

Over 48,000 views

True Story: City Officials + Real Estate Developers Get Stung in FBI Undercover Investigation

Your MesaZona blogger missed 'the buzz' about this one sent by an unidentified source from August of last year, but did bookmark ...