Diversity & Taxes - Mayor State of the City of Chandler Speech
Chandler is a success. But the city also has problems and is becoming a victim of the radical left and complacency by some Republicans.
Chandler is a comparatively well run city. It's home to many common sense people who in turn tend to elect fairly competent and reasonable politicians, with exceptions proving the rule. Combine this with some of the best winter weather in the country, and the fact that California next door is in woke self-destruct mode, and you have an easy winner.
Chandler is continuing to attract businesses and jobs. As mayor Kevin Hartke outlined in his State of the City speech, Intel is building the world's most advanced semi-conductor manufacturing factory in the world in Chandler, creating around 3,000 high paying tech jobs in the process. Honeywell has rented space for a facility that will manufacture N95 masks, presumably just in case masking requirements become permanent, and more stringent. According to the mayor, Chandler hotels now see booking rates roughly equal to the time just before the pandemic started. The city's comparatively relaxed policies on mask mandates deserve at least partial credit for this. Chandler never instituted an all out mask mandate. Although Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman declared a mask mandate for the county, Chandler instituted a more relaxed mandate more akin to a recommendation, without enforcement, superseding Hickman's authoritarian mandate.
By comparison, the city of Gilbert did not, and followed the county mandate. No discernable difference in terms of infection and death rates between the two cities was observed. This was recently confirmed by a Johns Hopkins study. Masks and lockdowns do not work. The sad truth is that short of imprisonment of the entire population in individual sanitized and air filtered cells with 100% enforcement, airborne viruses spread to everyone. That is their nature. Virtually all actions taken by government officials during the pandemic have made the situation worse by reducing economic activity and available resources. The one notable exception to this is former President Trump's cutting of federal red tape in order to accelerate vaccine development, meaning getting government out of the way. Although the vaccines available today do not appear to slow down infection rates, they can soften Covid symptoms, especially for at risk populations such as older people. Like all medical drugs, the vaccines can have side effects.
Other city policies under the mayor's administration are more questionable. Mayor Hartke outlined a partnership with Lyft to enhance flexible traffic options. Flexible traffic, i.e. public transportation, is a staple of big cities run by leftist politicians. In most smaller cities, Americans enjoy the comfort, convenience and flexibility of their own car. The demand for cars sky rocketed since the start of Covid-19 as many people perceive it safer to travel individually than being cramped into mass transit. Masks remain required on public transport to this day, despite science clearly showing that they do not slow the spread of airborne viruses such as Covid-19. Instead of spending money on barely used public transport, the city should focus on improving and extending roads. Drivers note daily that some traffic lights are uncoordinated, meaning they have to stop every half mile for a red light. Not only does this waste time and nerves, but also fuel.
The mayor outlined diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and while doing so he sounded almost indistinguishable from woke radicals. This has been seen in controlled opposition type Republicans like Sen Mitt Romney R-UT, who famously marched in the name of violent BLM extremists, or Sen. Tim Scott R-NC, who screams "racism" every time a black man gets into a confrontation with police and typically before all facts are known, but, was quiet about the persecution of Kyle Rittenhouse. Politics and policies based on race are evil, pure and simple, and should have no place in a civilized society. Such policies are particularly foolish in Chandler. From 1990 to 1994 Chandler had a black mayor, Coy Payne, a Republican. Payne had previously served on the city council from 1983 to 1990. Payne's successor, Jay Tibshraeny, has Lebanese heritage. As mayor Hartke correctly pointed out, Chandler had its first black city council member, in the 1960s. In his prepared remarks, the mayor failed to mention the name of said council member, Zora Folley.
Today's city council consists of 7 people, including mayor and vice mayor. It currently has two black members, and is hence 30% black. Yet, less than 5% of Chandler's residents are black. There is obviously plenty of so called "diversity" in Chandler and the city does not need commissions, offices and ordinances on the matter. It is an outrage that the city council authorized spending $50,000 tax payer dollars on a diversity consultancy from Sacramento California in order to prepare an ordinance that would make it easier for Chandler businesses to get sued by Al Sharpton type shake down race hucksters. People should be hired and promoted purely based on performance, not on melanin contents points.
The half cent sales tax was authorized by voters in Maricopa county in 2004. The authorization will run out in 2024. The mayor hinted that the city is in negotiations with the county to extend this tax and told people in the audience that he hopes that voters will support this continuation. Budget hawks would point out that Arizona is not a particularly lowly taxed state as there are sales and income taxes in the state and its communities. A more carefully managed budget would enable tax reductions, not require continuations, overrides or even increases.
Chandler spent tax payer dollars on keeping people in their homes during the pandemic who could not afford to do so. Had the city been more aggressive in keeping businesses open by resisting lockdowns, jobs would not have been lost and it would not have been necessary to tax workers to pay for those who do not work. A stronger resistance to lockdowns would also have seen more houses built. Chandler is also struggling with demographic decline. The local school districts, CUSD80 and Kyrene, see declining enrollment. Part of this is due to parents opting to home or private school their children over school closures and mask mandate in public districts. But there are overall fewer children being born in Chandler. In decades to come this lack of new workers to replace those who retire could spell big trouble for economic vitality.