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COMMUNITY Canadians key to Maricopa’s wintertime economy Page 16 January 2011

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MUSD fights fraud, feeds kids Page 6

NEWS There is another boom coming for Arizona Page 8

BUSINESS Attorney Jose Chaidez charted his course early Page 12

The federally subsidized Maricopa Unified School District food service program serves more than 100,000 meals each month, including ones provided free to needy children. steven m. thomas

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Maricopa Notebook Now Republicans must govern By JOE ROBISON

January 2011

Sharing the thoughts and opinions of Maricopa

Legislature should concentrate on jobs, economy and immigration By Brenda Hermanson

On Nov. 2 the ballots were cast; the votes were counted and the results are in. The Republicans won clear majorities in the state House and Senate as well as the governorship and other state offices. Now the Republicans must do something that they have failed to do for the past 40 years — govern. You see for the past 40 years they have controlled the Arizona Legislature. In that position, they have been required by the state constitution to pass a balanced budget — something they failed to do over the past two years. In fact, it would be even longer if previous governors had not used the veto pen to get a balanced budget. Now Republicans must dig Arizona out of the fiscal mess that they are mainly responsible for. However, given some of the rumbles we are hearing from their leadership it sounds like they going dig us deeper into debt.

The Republican legislature, with concurrence of the Republican governor, closed state parks, cut off funding for low income healthcare, closed highway rest areas and took away funding for numerous other programs that mainly effect low- and middle-income citizens of Arizona. Nothing has been done to secure more jobs in the state, even though it is clear that Arizona cannot rely on just the housing and tourist industries for employment. In past sessions, Republicans have pushed more and more costs off onto cities and counties. Because of that practice, these entities are already strapped to the degree that our public safety and infrastructure are not just suffering, but may in fact put citizens of Arizona in imminent danger. Cities are laying off police officers and firefighters, closing parks and cutting back on essential services. State government must stop the practice of forcing cities and counties to pick up the costs for their inability to do the job they were elected to do: Govern. Yes, Republicans won clear majorities across Arizona. With that win comes responsibility. That is something that they have Continued on page 4

The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the working folks. The Democrats are supposed to be the party of opportunity. The Democrats are supposed to be the party of hope. Really? Instead, Democrats seem to want to pass the blame on to Republicans instead taking some of the blame. Let’s start with the budget crisis and go back a few years. In March 2007, the projection was that state sales tax receipts would increase by 8.5 percent over the next two years. And that was considered a pretty conservative projection. Instead, they have gone down by over 16 percent. And the sales tax is the most steady and predictable of the state’s tax sources. The governor’s office comes up with a revenue forecast as does the legislature. Agreeing on a common one is part of the budget negotiations. State Treasurer Dean Martin went to Governor Napolitano in March, 2008 and told her that the state spending needed to stop and that a revised budget needed to be negotiated or the state would go into the red. Governor Napolitano called Dean Martin “Chicken Little,” and said that he was not fully informed. The governor said that the state has money that the treasurer

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didn’t know about. Really? That is illegal. Governor Napolitano quickly retracted her statement knowing she could face some legal battles if her statement were true. There are three areas that the legislatures need to fix, and that means both Republicans and Democrats. Those three are the economy, jobs and the border. Let’s look at how we get our state back on track. Economy: We need to cut useless spending, and even though that sounds simple, it isn’t. If you lose 30 percent of your income, you cut expenditures, but the problem is that the state expenditures are 30 percent higher. We passed the sales tax proposition that will bring in around $1 billion, but that still leaves about a $2 billion deficit. If we do nothing, the deficit will be around $4 billion by 2014.The state relied for many years on tourism, Continued on page 4

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Now Republicans must govern Continued from page 2 shunned for the past four decades. Our education system is in serious trouble. Class sizes are ballooning, teachers are being cut, dropout rates are climbing and nothing has been done to curb any of it. We continue to hear about proposals to increase border security and to chase down illegal immigrants. With Republicans in total control one would think that rather than spend Arizona tax dollars on what is clearly a Federal responsibility they would be working with our congressional delegation, where Republicans have a majority, to have them secure our

borders as they are required to do. Arizona’s tax dollars should be spent on our needs, not doing what the Federal Government is required to do. I am clearly a partisan, but the election is over and now it is time to govern and tend to the state’s needs. All elected officials must be a part of solving Arizona’s problems. Balancing the budget, caring for our cities and counties, improving our crumbling educational institutions and creating jobs should not be partisan issues. Getting Arizona’s house in good order takes input from everyone, Republicans and Democrats should be involved in crafting solutions to our pressing needs. Good legislation comes from working with all parties and on some if not most oc-

January 2011

casions making the necessary compromises to have our state move forward and start to solve our many problems. We cannot wait another four decades to get the job done. The time is here for those elected to take responsibility and move our Arizona forward. Joe Robison is chairman of the Pinal County Democratic Party.

Legislature should concentrate on jobs, economy and immigration Continued from page 2 sales taxes, and income taxes

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for its revenue. Jobs: Tax incentives, and how the state government targeting on how to use tax incentives to create jobs is essential. If tax incentives create a flow of money into jobs, employed people paying taxes will keep government running. Over 308,000 jobs have been lost in Arizona, so if government is going to live on sales tax revenues, then legislatures must pay attention to job creation. The Border: Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers even more than once thought — a whopping $2.7 billion in 2009, according to researchers at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the public interest group that helped write the state’s new

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January 2011

Cover Story

MUSD fights fraud, feeds kids By Steven M. Thomas

Steve@InMaricopa.com There is some fraud in the free and reduced-price lunch program that 51 percent of children in the Maricopa Unified School District participate in, with students who don’t qualify receiving federally funded meal assistance. However, due to diligent local oversight, the percentage of benefits that go to the wrong people is much lower here than in many other school districts. According to MUSD Director of Child Nutrition Suzette Moe, who oversees the district’s food service, approximately 16 percent of applications for free or reduced-price lunches flagged for official verification this year were rejected for misreporting income or not responding to requests for documentation. That percentage compares very favorably to some other districts where up to 93 percent of audited applications were rejected in the 2007-08 school year, but still means that as many 440 of the 2,730 local students participating in the program may be ineligible for the benefits they are receiving. Since children in the program receive an average of $462 in benefits during a school year, as much as $200,000 in meal assistance may be going to MUSD kids who don’t qualify. “There is a bit of an honor system,” said Tom Beckett, MUSD human resources director. “We generally trust what people say, but Suzette also hand enters each one of the applications and flags them if there is something that doesn’t look right.” The Department of Agriculture, which administers the meal assistance program, requires districts to verify 3 percent of what are called “errorprone” applications, ones that show

steven m. thomas

Maricopa Elementary School students (left to right) Rigoberto Guillen, Guadalupe Flores, Brian Homar and Allan Rodriguez enjoying their lunch break on a Friday in December. income levels close to qualification cutoff amounts for free or reduced-price meals. Moe goes beyond the required 3 percent, using her knowledge of the local community to identify suspicious applications. “I pull the ones that are just ridiculous,” she said. “If I see a family of four living in one of the newer subdivisions reporting an income of $100 or $200 a week, I contact them to find out what is going on. I would say I verify about 10 percent of the applications in total, between the 3 percent the government requires and the extra ones I flag.”

Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act The Federal School Lunch Program — which also provides free and reduced-price breakfast and afterschool snacks for children in need — was originally founded as a national security measure. During WWII, 8 percent of Selective Service registrants

were found to be unfit for army service because of malnutrition or underfeeding. After the war, Congress sought to remedy this situation with legislation crafted by Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell and signed into law by President Truman in 1946. Section 2 of the act reads: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the Nation’s children . . . by providing an adequate supply of foods and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, and expansion of nonprofit school-lunch programs.” Today, the program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day, in public and private schools. All lunches served by the MUSD food service department are subsidized to some extent by cash payments from

the federal government, even those for which children pay the going rate. According to figures provided by Moe, reimbursement rates are $2.72 for free meals served, $2.32 for reducedprice meals, and 26 cents for regularprice meals. The district also receives an allotment of surplus food such as cheese and pasta that Moe draws on throughout the year. Children do not have to be living in poverty to receive free or reduced-price meals, so the high percentage of MUSD students in the program does not mean that the community is poverty-stricken. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which they cannot be charged more than 40 cents. Currently, 130 percent of the poverty level is $28,665 for a family of four; 185 percent is $40,793. Children who are homeless or whose families receive food stamps or participate in certain other programs with independent income verification are automatically eligible for meal assistance and not subject to MUSD review.

2 types of fraud

Besides individual cheaters, who misreport income or family size to get meal assistance, some school districts have been caught with their hand in the till. Because many federal programs use lunch assistance numbers as an indictor of need, districts with a high percentage of participating students get more Title I funds and other types of federal and state assistance. The $30 billion Title I program dispenses money to improve academic opportunities for the disadvantaged, recruit and train teachers, reduce class size and upgrade facilities, and the more lunch-assisted


January 2011 students districts have, the more funds they tend to get. “Districts have a vested interest in having a high number of students enrolled in the Federal School Lunch Program,” Moe said. According to investigative reporter David N. Bass, writing for Education Next, “Some districts encourage parents to fill out applications even if they are not sure they qualify. One district in Chillicothe, Missouri, offered parents a $10 Walmart gift card for turning in an application.” MUSD does not offer any incentive for filling out applications, but it does send an application home with every student, according to Rick Neilson, assistant principal for career and technical education at Maricopa High School. Sometimes districts go beyond enthusiasm for the program to outright fraud. In September the California Department of Education determined that the Oxnard Union High School District had to pay back the state and federal governments $5.6 million that it over billed for school meals. “We found systematic over billing on free and reduced-price meals at every school in our district,” Oxnard Union attorney Jack Parham said. Moe said there was no chance of that kind of fraud happening here. “We are audited by the state and the district auditors, so there is no way I could be claiming students that we don’t actually have.” According to Moe, auditors from the Arizona Department of Education go over every application she submits to make sure the students meet the guidelines — on paper, at least. But they do not attempt to verify the facts on the applications, leaving open the likelihood that parents who give false information will not be detected. The application parents fill out for children to get meal assistance has a clause above the signature line that states, “I understand that if I purposely give false information, my children may lose meal benefits and I may be prosecuted,” but Moe says she doesn’t know of anyone who has actually been prosecuted for giving false information.

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Allan Rodriguez (left) and TreVaughnte Minous enjoy the ‘all you can eat’ salad bar. In fact, it is unclear who would have jurisdiction in such a prosecution, since local, state and federal agencies are involved in administering the program.

Putting children first

According to paymentaccuracy. org, an official website of the United States government, the $9 billion National School Lunch Program has the highest percentage of “improper payments” of any federal program, with $1.5 billion going astray in fiscal 2009. That naturally raises the hackles of legitimate fiscal conservatives. On the other side of the scale, despite fraud and errors in payment, the program clearly benefits society through lower healthcare costs and higher educational attainment. “The Effects of the National School Lunch Program on Education and Health,” an in-depth report published in January 2010, found that increased access to meal assistance added nearly a year to the level of educational attainment for male students. This could be due in part to students attending school in order to eat when food is not available at home, and so doing better and staying in school longer, or to better learning and success rates for students who receive adequate nutrition. Either way, to the extent that education is good for individuals, and educated people are more productive members of society, there is a direct connection between the school lunch program and the betterment of the nation. Also weighing in the program’s favor is the natural compassion most people feel for hungry children. At MUSD schools, kids who might otherwise

go hungry receive a hot, nutritionally balanced lunch each day that includes unlimited fruit and salad that they serve themselves from a salad bar. “Children who need breakfast show up half an hour early, get in line and give the cashier their name and receive a healthy breakfast,” said Moe. The degree of support for children’s well-being was demonstrated when the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on Aug. 5. The bill was delayed for months afterward by Republican obstruction in the House of Representatives, but eventually passed there as well on Dec. 2. When President Obama signs it into law it will, in the language of the House Committee on Education and Labor, “dramatically improve children’s access to nutritious meals, enhance the quality of meals children eat both in and out of school and in childcare settings, implement new school food safety guidelines and, for the first time, establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.” The act will provide $4.5 billion in new funding to expand school meal programs, combat hunger and improve children’s health over the next 10 years. “My office is at district headquarters now instead of in a school, but I still see the children in the schools all the time,” said Moe. “When you see some of them coming in who have obviously gotten ready for school by themselves that morning, you know they really need this program.”

Meals served in MUSD schools in November Breakfast Free meals Reduced-price meals Paid meals Lunch Free meals Reduced–price meals Paid meals

16,590 2,626 5,195 39,376 7,692 22,576

Including snack bar meal equivalents and adult meals, the MUSD food service program overseen by Suzette Moe served 108,781 meals in November.

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January 2011

‘There is a another boom coming for Arizona’ Going from 2nd to 49th in growth

By Steven M. Thomas

Steve@InMaricopa.com Real estate expert and economic forecaster Elliott D. Pollack said the worst is over for the Phoenix area, including Pinal County, but that recovery will be slow. “2012 and 2013 will be a hell of a lot better than 2011,” Pollack told a group of 200 or so government officials, developers, financiers and other business people at the Pinal County Partnership’s annual economic forecast on Dec. 17. “And 2011 will be a hell of a lot better than 2008 and 2009. By 2014 and 2015, you all will have big smiles on your faces again.” In the short term, according to Pollack’s analysis, economic progress will be modest, mainly because of the depth and aftereffects of the collapse in homebuilding and real estate prices, including the continuing glut of foreclosures. Tight credit conditions for both homebuyers and businesses and continuing unemployment will also act as dampers, preventing the kind of robust bounce-back typical after most previous recessions. Pollack said Arizona cannot have a

Steven M. Thomas

Real estate expert Elliott D. Pollack addressing the Pinal Partnership’s annual economic forecast meeting on Dec. 17. robust recovery until the construction industry gets back on its feet and that such a rebound won’t fully occur until 2014, when the current excess housing inventory is finally absorbed and population inflow becomes strong enough again to support a thriving new home building industry with all its attendant benefits in jobs, city revenue and positive psychology.

To illustrate the degree of the economic disaster in Arizona, Pollack noted that from the 1950s into the 1990s, Arizona was consistently one of the top two states in terms of growth, but that by 2009 it had fallen to 49th. The vicious cycle that brought about this reversal included the real estate bubble bursting, which put a halt to the new homebuilding industry and vaporized hundreds of thousands of jobs as well flooding the resale market with foreclosures and short sales. At the same time, commercial real estate prices “fell through the floor” according to Pollack, with office, industrial and retail property valuations dropping by as much as 50 percent, leading to high vacancy rates and a standstill in new commercial construction. With houses plummeting in value, even those who could stay in their homes suffered from a depletion of the psychological “wealth effect” that caused people to feel confident and spend freely when their houses were appreciating rapidly during the boom. Reduced consumer spending accompanied by high unemployment in Arizona and the country led to the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

The good news for 2011 and beyond The template for gradual recovery and renewed growth in the Phoenix area Pollack outlined included these factors: Credit frees up, consumers become more confident, overall U.S. economy improves, stock market continues upward as business profits increase, excess housing stock is absorbed, people start to move to Arizona again, housing prices rise,

construction jobs are created, all job sectors gain, still more people move to Arizona, government revenue improves and the industrial base grows. As positive indicators of a current modest recovery, Pollack noted that jobs are now being created in Greater Phoenix. From October 2009 to October 2010, the area added 24,300 jobs, compared to a net loss of 226,900 jobs over the previous two years. “All those jobs will eventually come back,” Pollack said. “But it is going to take a while.” Pollack said business spending on equipment will be up next year as companies invest in upgraded computers and software to increase productivity and that business inventory correction will enhance growth data. Another positive indicator, perhaps the most basic one of all, is that all prognosticators Pollack cited believe that long-term population growth will resume and continue with millions more people coming to Arizona over the next several decades. More new arrivals mean more houses will have to be built, more stores and restaurants opened, more jobs created, more government revenue generated, leading to a brighter economic picture overall, a version of the rising sun that is Arizona’s state symbol. Unfortunately, Pollack added that the fundamental housing recovery will lag in Pinal County compared to the rest of the Phoenix area “because so much of the speculative housing was built there.” Nevertheless, the recovery is on its way in Pinal and throughout Arizona according to this highly regarded forecaster. “Believe it or not,” he told the packed room, “there is another boom coming for Arizona.”


9

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Top 10 stories of 2010 By michael K. RICH

Michael@InMaricopa.com

Maricopa experianced some dramatic highs and lows during the past year. Here is a look at the 10 events that had the greatest impact in 2010.

CAC plans campus

In one of the year’s brightest moments, Central Arizona College’s Governing Board voted unanimously in August to purchase 217 acres of vacant land south of Bowlin Road and west of White and Parker Road for construction of a full-scale college campus that will eventually serve 15,000 students and employ hundreds of faculty and staff. The new campus will replace the college’s Maricopa Center, a small storefront location at 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Biomass plant comes to town

The city received second piece of excellent economic news in August when Pinal Power announced it would build a 30 megawatt renewable energy power plant in Maricopa. The plant, which will generate enough juice to light 35,000 homes, will employ 125 during construction and create 25 permanent full-time jobs in the city. Construction is scheduled to start soon and the plant is expected to be operational by the latter part of 2012.

January 2010

Republicans sweep Pinal County races

November brought a red tide as Republicans Steve Smith, Frank Pratt and John Fillmore led a sweep of the State Legislative District 23. It marked the first time in the county’s history the district was controlled by a trio of Republicans. steven M. THOMAS

City Manager Kevin Evans steps down

The Maricopa City Council voted Sept. 29 to grant City Manager Kevin Evans the severance agreement he requested. During his three-year tenure, Evans oversaw a critical phase of Maricopa’s growth. Accomplishments included implementing a strategic plan, creating the Maricopa Economic Development Foundation, establishing communications with neighboring tribal governments and passing a $65 million parks, recreation and library bond package. “When Kevin Evans first arrived this city was just a baby learning to crawl, and while we may not be running yet, we are certainly walking now, thanks to him,” said Vice-Mayor Edward Farrell.

Global Water increases rates

Global Water’s 2010 rate increase generated great controversy. HOAs, government leaders and individual homeowners throughout the city decried the company’s initial rateincrease proposal as catastrophic. Heated public meetings and several legal hearings followed, resulting in rate increases that, while still painful to many, were considerably lower than first planned. The final increase will up the average home water/sewer bill in Maricopa from $76 to $96 by Jan. 1, 2012. The increase, while significant, is nearly $40 a month less than what Global originally requested. The future rate increase for reclaimed water, which HOAs use to irrigate green belts, was also reduced, from a proposed $2 per 1,000 gallons to 57 cents, up from the current 33 cents per 1,000.

Fragrant feedlot shuts down

In July, the city council approved a deal that removed one feedlot from the city and set the stage for a future employment center. The city purchased 68 acres of a 900-acre parcel for $3 million to use for the construction of a railroad overpass at White and Parker Road. In turn, the owner of the 900 acres, El Dorado Holdings, canceled Maricopa Feedlot’s lease, and agreed to the rezoning of 50 acres in the parcel from residential to commercial use. “This is a landmark change for the city of Maricopa,” said Mayor Anthony Smith. “It is as important for the city as the expansion of State Route 347 from two to four lanes was.” The feedlot was scheduled to vacate Maricopa by the end of 2010, reducing the cow population of Maricopa from 84,000 to about 50,000.

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Two hotels promised to Maricopa Mayor Smith announced in February that a Holiday Inn Express was on its way to Maricopa, with a planned completion date of November 2010. However, construction was delayed because of issues with the Arizona Department of Transportation and

the project is now scheduled for completion in late 2011, according to Larry Miller manager of Matrixx Management, the company behind the hotel development. While the Holiday Inn is still a drawing, construction of a 152-room addition to Harrah’s Ak Chin Casino broke ground in June and is slated for completion in July 2011. “This is going to be a fabulous addition,” said Geoff Andres, then general manager at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, noting that the $20-million project will create needed space at the resort, which is booked to capacity on a nightly basis.

SUBMITTED

MUSD override fails

The Maricopa Unified School District made headlines throughout the year due to budget reductions imposed by the state and the repeated failure of an override continuation measure. Cuts in fiscal 2009-2010 totaled more than $5 million and led to the elimination of 10 custodians, two groundskeepers, three bus drivers, a shop supervisor, a handful of teachers and 23 paraprofessionals. Hours and benefits were reduced for all remaining paraprofessionals along with the amount of money paid to teachers to coach sports. Making matters worse, the district now faces an additional $4 million to $5 million in cuts during the next fiscal year due to state revenue shortfalls and continued expiration of the override.

City employees bring suits, face indictment 2010 was full of drama involving current and former city employees.


10

Our Lady of Grace 4th Annual Parish Festival Jan. 28-30, 2011 Friday 4pm to 10:30pm Saturday 10:30am to 10:30pm

InMaricopa.com

Aki Stant The Maricopa Police sergeant’s turbulent career with the city came to an end June 21 for failure to comply with an internal investigation into the actions of one of his subordinates, officer Elliot Sneezy, who was being investigated for sending an e-mail while off duty to city council questioning the police department’s lack of an investigation into Sgt. James Hudspeth. Stant has since filed a $1.5 million claim against the city alleging violation of his constitutional due process rights.

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contested the demotion and the city Merit Board ultimately sided with him, giving him back his sergeant’s stripes. Marty McDonald Fired in 2009 from his position as director of community services, Marty McDonald fought off legal charges that he used the city’s FedEx discount to ship personal items. In 2010 McDonald was hit with three new felony charges alleging that he stole by fraud nearly $8,000 from the Friends of the Maricopa Public Library and then fabricated documentation to have the fraud charge dismissed. McDonald continues to maintain his innocence of all charges and has filed two suits against the city, one for $500,000 in 2009 and another for $50,000 this year.

Real estate market fails to revive

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James Hudspeth Hudspeth was demoted from sergeant to officer in May at the recommendation of Chief Kirk Fitch and Director of Public Safety Patrick Melvin after he violated department policy by taking property from a suspect’s vehicle. Hudspeth

The real estate market was awful in 2009, but there were signs of a recovery - with sales and prices increasing modestly - and hopes were high that 2010 would be significantly better. It wasn’t. Once the first-time homebuyer tax credit expired last fall, unsold inventory and foreclosures went up and prices went down. In the fall, new home sales, which had been weak all year, ground almost to a halt with only two permits pulled in October. Through the first two weeks of December, Maricopa averaged only 16 new home permits per month.

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Real Two hotels CAC plans City City MUSD Biomass estate promised to campus Manager employees override plant comes market Maricopa here Kevin Evans bring fails to town fails to resigns suits, face revive indictment


January 2011

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Maricopa’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 “To want what I have and not worry about not having what I want.” –KirkFitch, Chief of Police   “To be a better person” –Debashri Sengupta, InMaricopa Facebook friend

“To get an audition for a play or movie outside the Maricopa area.” –Matt Ernest, Founder, Maricopa Community Theater “To save money.” –Donavan Sutton, Maricopa resident and Wells Fargo banker

“To maintain a balance of business, family, community, health and humor.” –Mike Richey, Owner, ACE Hardware “To see the Copa Crew Girls Basketball team bring the city of Maricopa and “To continue to challenge myself to our team a 1st place trophy!” –Diana learn new things.” –Danielle Casey, Estrada, InMaricopa Facebook friend Maricopa Econ. Dev. Manager “To become a better leader.” –Rusty “To be more patient with my children.” Akers, Pastor, Community of Hope –Lori Bannister, Maricopa resident Church “To be a better man…a better husband...a better dad.” –Tom Beckett, MUSD Human Resources Director

“Not to worry about things I cannot change.” –Jeff Kleck, MUSD Superintendent

“To volunteer my time to more charitable causes and read as many books as possible.” –Councilmember Marquisha Griffin

“To be handier around the house and finish those projects that have loomed for the past few years.” –Jenna Chitwood, Maricopa resident

“To dedicate more time for physical fitness.” –Mayor Anthony Smith

“To help balance the city’s budget so we can operate within our means.” –Councilmember Julia Gusse

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BUSINESS 12

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January 2011

Profile

Attorney Jose Chaidez charted his course early By Steven M. Thomas

Steve@InMaricopa.com Jose Chaidez, who opened his law firm in Maricopa in September, knew from an early age what he wanted to do with his life. Born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, he moved to Tucson with his parents Abraham and Francisca when he was 3 years old. “For the longest time, both my parents worked in a tortilla factory in Tucson,” Chaidez said. “Then, when I was 10, my father was injured when his hand got caught in the machine that mixes the dough. I still remember how hard that was on my family, with my father out of work and trying to get compensation from the employer. The employer had its attorneys involved and we felt overwhelmed by the situation. I could see the stress and fear in my parents’ faces. I knew right then that I wanted to become a lawyer to help people and assist them through difficulties like we faced so they wouldn’t have to feel the way we felt.” That is just what Chaidez is doing today at Chaidez Law Firm, PLLC where he and a dozen associates specialize in renegotiating mortgages for people who are in danger of losing

their homes. Chaidez graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan, which was recently ranked the 12th best law school in the country. His varied experience includes stints with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, and he does a range of legal work, including estate planning, personal injury and criminal law. But loan modifications are the biggest part of his business. “When you get on the phone with an individual who is in danger of losing their home, you can sense the strain they are under,” he said. “They don’t know what to do and often feel overwhelmed. It is wonderful to be able to ease their mind and let them know that someone is on their side. By the time we get off the phone, they feel much better because they know they have found an advocate who will try hard to help them. “Talking to those clients triggers how I felt when I was young, when my father was hurt. It is very rewarding to be able to assist them. That is why I am in this business.” Chaidez’s staff is made up mainly of paralegals and loan underwriters. The office takes on upwards of 60 new loan modification clients each month, and the process can take anywhere from

Jose Chaidez and his staff (standing, left to right) Roland Hairston, Paul De Vries, Dino Serrano, Chaidez, Robert Rader, Denie Howie, Daniel Smith, Mosha Kyburz; (seated, left to right) Jennifer Levitan, Natasha Mays, Amber Wheeler. 30 to 120 days. “The first thing we do is a very diligent information gathering process and analysis to get a clear picture of the client’s situation and see what types of programs there are that might help them,” Chaidez said. “Then we gather all the proper paperwork and submit that to the lender and get into negotiations. Some instances are fairly clear-cut, where people qualify for programs that Obama has put in place. If they don’t qualify for something like

Jose Chaidez Founder, Chaidez Law Firm, PLLC

Personal

Born: Nogales, Mexico Raised: Tucson Resides: Phoenix Family: Parents, Abraham and Francisca Chaidez

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that, we look at each lender’s in-house loan modification program. We have a 97 percent success rate for the cases we take on.” Chaidez said he hopes to grow with the Maricopa community, opening a second location, and plans to involve himself in public affairs, offering his legal expertise to help civic organizations and eventually serving as a judge or elected official. “That is probably in the 10-year plan,” he said.

Food: Sushi Beverage: Iced tea Book: Law books Movie: “Momento” Actor: Bruce Willis Band: Maroon 5 Place: “A” mountain in Tucson TV show:  “Survivor”

Sport:  Baseball Team:  Arizona Diamondbacks Athlete: Michael Jordan Charity:  Arizona’s Children Association Saying:  “The acts of this life are the destiny of the next.”


BUSINESS Briefs

ED3 promises no base rate increase ED3 plans no base rate increase for residential, commercial and industrial customers in 2011. The not-for-profit utility allocates its costs where they are incurred in each rate and customer class. This has required ED3 to make a few small changes in expenses for 2011. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the following fee changes will be made: • The facility charge for time-of-use meters will be going up by $1.00 due to the cost of these smart meters which store data every 15 minutes. • Street light fees will increase slightly due to rising material costs andincreases in electricity costs since 2008. • A new minimum bill will be added to capture costs of seasonal custom-

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January 2011

ers who are not here full time but should help to pay for the infrastructure that has been installed for their service. • The NSF (non-sufficient funds) fee will be increased to $35.00 to cover the cost of bad checks. • A $5.00 fee for each time a payment arrangement is set up or modified will also go into effect at the beginning of the year. For more information, contact ED3 at (520) 424-9021 or ed3online.org

New business center opening

Local CPA Myron P. Trafelet Jr. and his daughter Holly plan to open a new business center in Maricopa. Desert Greens Professional Cooperative Suites, located next to the Maricopa Public Library at the corner of SmithEnke and Porter, will offer fully furnished offices for lease.  “Our intention is to offer an affordable place to start or grow a professional business.” Trafelet said. “Maricopa

can apply online at TrafeletAccounting.com or in person at 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 109.

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is filled with talented individuals, and we want to be a resource to see great things happen in this city.” The business center will house a conference and meeting room seating 14 as well as single desk space available for daily use. Construction on the environmentally friendly business center is set to begin in January, and the grand opening is planned for May 2011. Trafelet said all products and services used to upgrade and equip the building have been or will be purchased locally. Anyone interested in leasing space

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REAL ESTATE 14

InMaricopa.com

Local real estate pros predict lackluster 2011 To get a sense of what the housing market will be like in 2011, we asked several local real estate professionals to look ahead and give us their assessment of likely sales and price trends in Maricopa. Despite a few glimmers of optimism, most agree home prices will not recover next year and may even decline slightly.

buyers remain an important part of the  housing market recovery,  especially in Maricopa. If the Canadian dollar remains strong, look for market to improve the last few months of 2011 as the summer heat begins to fade. 

Dayv Morgan, Realtor

Rita Weiss, Broker/Owner

What is your general expectation for the real estate market next year? I

Desert Canyon Properties

anticipate that market conditions will likely remain the same over the next year, and prices may take another slight drop.  

over the summer after the first-time homebuyer tax credit expired.  As a result, the median home price in Phoenix dropped from $135,000 in April to $125,000 in October. There are still a large number of anticipated foreclosures for 2011, as many 5-year

What is your general expectation for the real estate market next year? Generally, adjustable loans from the “peak” in 2006 are scheduled to reset. Until the supply of foreclosures decreases and new home sales increase, prices will remain relatively flat.

Do you think the number of sales will increase or decrease? Economic factors point towards a decreasing unemployment rate and continued low

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interest loans, which  should increase demand. Additionally, a new segment of buyers will enter the market: people who have previously  done a  short sale. Buyers can re-qualify for a loan in as little as two years after completing a short sale. In 2009 there was a 1,000% increase over 2008 in the number of closed short sales in Arizona, and these same people  will be  eligible to finance a home in 2011

What will be the main factors impacting the market? Canadian

ByTIG Real Estate Corporation

Do you think housing prices here will rise or fall next year? Supply skyrocketed

January 2011

Healing Maricopa since 2004

the real estate market in Maricopa has not changed appreciably in 2010 and will continue on the downward trend through 2011 according to most housing industry experts. With statistics what they are, 2011 will be a repeat of 2010 in Maricopa, sad but true.

Do you think housing prices here will rise or fall next year? The housing

recovery has stalled and the National • 24/7 Access • Air conditioned units • Individual unit alarms • Gated with security cameras • 14 Sizes: 5’x5’ to 19’x10’ • See size chart online • Full packaging supply store • Reserve units online

Association of Realtors recently predicted that homeowners can expect little, if any, increase in home values nationwide in 2011.

Do you think the number of sales will increase or decrease?   The rate

of foreclosures has slowed over the past year but the number of short sales has increased due to mortgage delinquencies. There were 953 foreclosure sales in Maricopa this year compared to last year’s 1,651. This year there are 564 closed short sale compared to 467 in 2009.

What will be the main factors impacting the market? Maricopa is

ranked 35th out of 40 in the greater Phoenix area for price per square foot — down 2 percent in 2010 — making Maricopa a top contender for the most affordable housing. For the first time in nearly three years, repeat buyers and investors have taken over firsttime buyers as sales leaders. As a result, prices of bank-owned REO’s and properties involved in short sales are being bid up by multiple offers and cash buyers.

Bill Wasowicz, Associate Broker The Wizards of Waz Real Estate

What is your general expectation for the real estate market next year? I expect inventory levels to remain high as the flow of short sales and foreclosures

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continues. Buyer interest will increase as they are drawn to the exceptional values. Inventory is currently at the lowest level since mid-July, but this is mostly due to the foreclosure moratoriums imposed by a number of the major lenders a few months back. Unfortunately, this has built up a backlog — Bank of America currently has over 16,000 homes ready for foreclosure — and this “shadow” inventory will be released into the market shortly after the first of the year.

Do you think housing prices here will rise or fall next year? Housing prices

will most likely continue to decline due to the increase in inventory. Another 10 percent or more would not be a surprise. It’s a simple case of supply versus demand. I expect this trend to continue well into 2012 until the majority of foreclosures and short sales have run their course.

Do you think the number of sales will increase or decrease? The number of

sales should increase and return to the levels of 2009. I base this in part due to the decline in home prices but also am counting on a gradual upswing in the economy in general.

15

Malcolm MacEwen, CRB, GRI

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Arizona What is your general expectation for the real estate market next year? According to recent article in the Arizona Republic, the real-estate market and the fact that population growth has slowed to about 1.5 percent a year, remain the biggest drags on the local economy. Home prices in Arizona have fallen for 15 of the past 17 quarters and today stand at about what they were in 2000. Economist Elliott Pollack estimates that there are 50,000 to 70,000 excess single-family homes in metro Phoenix alone and that it will take at least four more years for housing supply to equal demand.

Do you think housing prices here will rise or fall next year? A report from Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc. shows prices flat going into the New Year.

Do you think the number of sales will increase or decrease?   The widely-

What will be the main factors impacting the market? Distressed homes will

read real estate newsletter “Cromford Report” reports that the pool of prospective buyer-occupants continues to shrink. Overall, experts believe 2011 will be a slow year for new-home sales.

continue to be the driving force impacting home prices. As long as there is a constant flow of these properties into the marketplace, home values will continue to decline. Until the economy recovers, I only expect modest gains in the number of sales as many potential clients that wish to move to Arizona are being held back by the inability to sell their current home.

suggest that a high level of distressed properties, the lack of a first-time buyer tax credit, and negative equity in homes people might sell to move up will be a drag on the market. A gradual improvement in the economy and investors buying up homes at bargain prices will be positive factors.

What will be the main factors Reports impacting the market?

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January 2011

Canada Club

Canadians key to Maricopa’s wintertime economy Each year during Arizona’s mildweather months, Canadian’s who own winter homes in Maricopa provide a critical stimulus to the local economy. We surveyed business owners and managers to get their thoughts on the positive effects our friends from Canada bring to the local marketplace.

Raceway Bar and Grill

49237 W. Papago Road Jeanna Del Cotto, Co-owner How important are Canadian winter residents to your business? Our Canadian residents are extremely important to our overall success.  We look forward to their return each year as they play a significant role in our business success and allow us to sustain employment in our community. Most importantly, we have built great friendships over the years and have a lot of fun when they are here.

What months do they impact your business? They positively impact our business from November to April.

During that time, what percentage of your customers are Canadian? Fifty

percent.

How would you characterize your Canadian customers? Good friends,

fun, witty, well-balanced, familyorientated, caring — just genuinely good people.

Do you do anything special to meet their needs? We welcomed them back

by hosting a Grey Cup party with the support of several other business owners in Maricopa.  We televise Canadian sports, National Rodeo Finals and any other viewing interests. We also serve gravy with fries if desired. We make a great Caesar and make desserts to order. Our homemade cakes and pies are a big hit with our Canadian friends.

HairFocus LLC

44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 111 Dick Crew, Owner

What months do they impact your business? We see an increase in our business from them starting in November  into April. This also includes all winter visitors.

During that time, what percentage of your customers are Canadian? They make up about 18 to 20 percent of our business during those months.

How would you characterize your Canadian customers? We find the

Canadians to be a great group of people — very polite, friendly and with a good sense of humor.

Do you do anything special to meet their needs? We were one of the

sponsors for the welcome party at Raceway which was enjoyed by the Canadians. We have a nice coffee cup with the Canadian maple leaf on it that we give to them, plus a desk calendar and pens.

The Duke at Rancho El Dorado

How important are Canadian winter residents to your business? The Canadian visitors are getting to be an important part of our winter business. We really appreciate their business and what they contribute to the city of Maricopa.

42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Parkway Corey Parker, Manager How important are Canadian winter residents to your business? They are

What months do they impact your business? From mid-November to midApril.

During that time, what percentage of your customers are Canadian? It has to be well over 50 or 60 percent. It is tough to distinguish if a group is only from Canada. We get a lot of customers from Washington state and the Midwest as well. But I would say it is over 60 percent.

How would you characterize your Canadian customers? They are fantastic.

They are loyal customers.

Do you do anything special to meet their needs? We don’t have anything that

is necessarily designated to Canadians specifically. We bring in ball-markers that are Canadian-specific. Sales of our yearly Gold Card definitely pick up during the winter months.

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January 2011

Canada Club The Maricopa Real Estate Company 18860 N. John Wayne Parkway Steve Murray, Designated Broker

How important are Canadian winter residents to your business? They are absolutely critical for us. They are the main group of homebuyers right now, without a doubt.

What months do they impact your business? It is year-round, but we see

locally. The whole process is more service-oriented. We complete quite a few transactions sight unseen. We have sold a lot of homes that the buyers have never seen.  

connection fees.  In addition, we offer packages so that customers can retain their telephone numbers, access voicemail and access e-mail during those hot Arizona months when they are back in Canada.

21116 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite B-9 Gina Linville, Vice President of Operations and Customer Service

44480 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 103 Courtny Tyler, agent

Orbitel Communications

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the influx when the weather cools. September and October bring an enormous increase for us. We start slowing down in March. It is a major impact. It has been substantial for many years. I would say the last two or three years it has steadily increased.

How important are Canadian winter residents to your business? As with all of

How important are Canadian winter residents to your business?  The Canadians

our customers, we look at the seasonal Maricopa customers as a valuable part of our community.

have really helped soften the impact to my business from all the foreclosures. 

percent.

our business all year long but are an especially welcome sight as they return to their winter homes as early as October. We usually see the last of our seasonal customers leave in May. 

During that time, what percentage of your clients are Canadian? Upwards of 50

How would you characterize your Canadian clients? They are always

cash buyers, so the transactions are shorter. We close quicker and cleaner, especially with some of the changes in lending. It is obviously a desirable transaction. With cash buyers, you are going to close a lot higher percentage of them.

Do you do anything special to meet their needs? The service is different. It

some ways it is probably a little more high-tech. We help them with opening accounts. We usually take them to the bank and get their accounts open for them. We do a lot of sending documents out versus getting them signed here

What months do they impact your business? Canadian visitors impact

During that time, what percentage of your customers are Canadian? Roughly 6

What months do they impact your business? It’s year-round for me.  I

may be insuring more cars during the winter months, but not too much of a difference than other months.

During that time, what percentage of your customers are Canadian? Over the

past year, they’ve equated to about 20

percent of our customers are here only as winter visitors.

How would you characterize your Canadian customers? I love the

Canadians. They all seem to be super friendly, outgoing, and so nice to my team. It really is a pleasure serving our northern neighbors!

Do you do anything special to meet their needs? We have very competitive

rates on homes that are classified as secondary residences, but those are the same for all of our winter visitors.

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How would you characterize your Canadian customers? Our Canadian visitors, as well as visitors from across the United States, are a friendly group presenting us with some great opportunities.

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Do you do anything special to meet their needs? We have a variety of

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Religion 18

InMaricopa.com

Church kick-starts biker ministry By michael K. RICH

Michael@InMaricopa.com A 2007 Harley Davidson Road King rumbles to a stop in front of Mountain View Community Church. As the rider, clad in a black leather jacket, steps off the motorcycle, one might think a harrowing scene from the classic film “Easy Rider” is about to go down. But long-time Maricopa resident Curt Chamberlain has no intention of harming anyone or anything. He happens to be the minister of a new biker ministry at the church. “So often, bikers don’t feel welcome in a traditional church setting,” Chamberlain said. “We want to help bring God to them.” Chamberlain, road name “Preacher,” held his first Bible study Dec. 4 and has since seen the number of members slowly grow. “It is just a matter of getting the word out,” he said. The Bible studies take place Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. inside the

Mountain View Community Church, 50881 W. Papago Road. Chamberlain said he is hopeful other bikers in Maricopa and across the Valley will join him. “This Bible study is a great reason to get on your hog and go for a Saturday ride.” Chamberlain, who is finishing his bachelor’s degree in theology, developed the idea to host a biker Bible study in November. “I have a calling to spread the word of God and this seemed like an excellent opportunity.” Mountain View Community Church elders and Chamberlain’s wife and fellow rider, Linda, are helping him form the group. “Bikers can leave behind their wild lifestyle, but they can never shake the desire to ride,” Linda said. “We hope to form a group that not only spreads a positive message, but provides an outlet to ride. “As a biker you need to ask yourself: ‘Do you want to ride your hog in heaven?’” Church elder Don Herren said, “We

Join us!

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Maricopa

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Curt Chamberlain, whose road name is “Preacher,” holds a weekly Bible study for bikers at Mountian View Community Church. support this group 100 percent. It is our duty as a religious organization to bring the word of God to all.” While the Bible study is a new venture for Chamberlain, involvement in religion is old hat. The road warrior grew up as the son of an evangelical minister and was always involved in church activities. “I was blessed with this gift to teach and always felt the need to spread the

Michael K. Rich

word,” he said. As the weather improves, Chamberlain is thinking about taking his Bible study on the road. “We really hope we can give the biker community a positive outlet through this group,” he said. For more information on the biker Bible study, contact Chamberlain at 520-423-7735 or voicemaster@ wildblue.net.


education January 2011

19

InMaricopa.com

Coutre, Bartle ready to ‘hit the ground running’ By TOM KESSLER Newly elected school board members from across the state gathered in Phoenix on Dec. 15 for the Arizona School Boards Association’s annual New Board Member Orientation. Among the attendees at the Biltmore Conference Center were Scott Bartle and Patti Coutre, who were elected in November to seats on the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board and will begin their terms in January. The New Board Member Orientation was a daylong seminar that was part of the 53rd annual ASBA/ASA Conference, a three-day event conducted each year by the Arizona School Boards Association and the Arizona School Administrators. “It was a jam-packed day of the dos and don’ts and the ins and outs of being a school board member,” Bartle said. “It is really imperative that everybody goes through that process.” Coutre agreed. “It was very valuable for me,” Coutre said about the New Board Member Orientation. “It addressed a lot of the open meeting laws, which are extremely important to know.” ASBA lists four main goals for its New Board Member Orientation: • To provide new governing board members and superintendents with an accurate look at school governance, including roles and responsibilities. • To help new board members under-

stand the legal and ethical responsibilities of the office. • To provide an overview of Arizona school finance and budgeting. • To create opportunities for new board members to ask questions and develop professional relationships with other board members, superintendents and ASBA staff. One of the event’s central premises emphasized that school board members always need to do what is best for the children in the district. “There seemed to be a recurring theme that when you make your decisions you ask yourself, ‘Is this going to be in the students’ best interest?’” Coutre said. The orientation consisted of 10 topic-based workshops, including one that was titled “You Are the Advocates for Children” and another described as “Putting Students First — Why We’re Here.” A seminar titled “Board-Superintendent Relationship” defined the roles of board members and superintendents. Presented by John Gordon, ASBA director of leadership development, and Karen Beckvar, ASBA leadership development specialist, the seminar stressed that the school board and superintendent must work cooperatively. “The best board member is the one who is part of a team,” Beckvar said. “You have to be in sync with where you’re going.” Beckvar said board members must understand the difference between their responsibilities and those of the

Newly elected MUSD Governing Board member Scott Bartle listens to a presentation on “Putting Students first — Why We’re Here.” superintendent. “The board’s role is to govern,” Beckvar said to the future school board members. “The superintendent is the

Tom Kessler

one who is actually going to run the district. They have the qualifications to do so — you don’t.” Beckvar and Gordon emphasized


January 2011

InMaricopa.com

that the school board’s role is to establish a plan and set the district’s goals, while the superintendent’s job is to implement the plan and make sure the goals are achieved. “The superintendent cannot manage unless they know where you want to go,” Gordon said. “As board members, we’re not looking for you to be education experts,” said Beckvar. “We’re looking for you to represent the interests of the community. It’s not your job to solve problems. It’s your job to make sure that problems get solved.” Beckvar told attendees of the that during their terms they are always going to be perceived by the public as school board members, whether they are sitting at the dias in the meeting room, watching the Friday night football game or shopping at the grocery store. “Your community is making judgments on you based on your behavior,” Beckvar said. “This is a 24/7 job.” Beckvar said that board members are ambassadors for their school districts. “You are a role model, whether you want to be or not,” Beckvar said. “You only get to choose whether you are a positive ambassador for your district or a negative one.” Coutre took note of the seminar’s emphasis on school board members maintaining a positive relationship with the community. “Part of what they stressed, something I have felt very strongly about, is open communication, getting the com-

20

munity involved,” Coutre said. The New Board Member Orientation also included a workshop titled “School Finance Basics,” which Bartle said was particularly beneficial. “It is important to have a working knowledge of what school finance is all about,” Bartle said. Brian Mee, assistant superintendent for business services for the Pendergast Elementary School District in Phoenix, explained Arizona’s education financing formula and how it relates to school boards. “We cannot print money,” Mee said. “The bottom line is we have X amount of dollars — which is shrinking — and we must stay within that limit. It is very important that we prioritize.” Mee said school boards must make budget decisions that include whether to pay people more or to pay more people. “Those are hard decisions, but those are decisions that have to be made,” he said. Coutre and Bartle said the New Board Member Orientation provided them with information and background that will help them make the difficult decisions as members of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board. “I feel more confident, more knowledgeable, so that I can make the right decisions,” Coutre said. “Undoubtedly we are going to learn more as we progress through our four-year term,” said Bartle. “But this prepared me to hit the ground running in January.”

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health & fitness 21

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January 2011

Exercise sharpens memory by Linda Melone, CSCS I was never as embarrassed as the time I attempted to introduce a good friend of mine to someone else and drew a complete blank on my friend’s name. Jim — I won’t forget his name now, even after 15 years — glared at me as I stuttered and stammered, at a complete loss to dislodge the memory byte in my brain with his name on it. Temporary memory loss happens to the best of us, but it can be mortifying in social situations. Other times, it’s just annoying or upsetting: forgetting where you left your keys or arriving at work without your wallet may make you wonder what’s happening to your mind. And, unlike your computer, you can’t simply add a memory chip to your brain. Not yet, anyway. Until that becomes a reality, here are ways to remain the sharpest knife in the drawer going into the New Year:

Be a muscle head

The next time you can’t remember the name of that song, try running around the block. Exercisers perform better on memory tests than sedentary people, according to research from a Columbia University Medical Center study. Researchers found that, not only does exercise increase oxygen to the brain, but it also targets a region of the brain within the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus, which underlies normal age-related memory decline that typically starts around the age of 30. Fred Gage, Ph. D. of the Salk Institute demonstrated in mice that new neurons generate in the dentate gyrus and exercise improves the process. Specifically how much exercise and how often remains to

be seen, although it only took three weeks of regular aerobic exercise for subjects to grow new nerve cells in the brain, a process long thought to be impossible.

Ratey, the author of the book, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” BDNF fuels almost all activities that lead to higher thought. As regular exercise builds up levels of BDNF in the body, brain nerve cells branch out, join together and communicate with each other in new ways. Since this process occurs each time the brain picks up a new fact or skill, a higher level of BDNF equals a greater capacity for knowledge. Exercise equals smarts, plain and simple.

Exercise makes you smarter

Exercise not only improves your memory — it may also make you smarter. A protein called IGF-1 releases each time a bicep or other muscle contracts. It travels through the bloodstream and into the brain itself, prompting production of several chemicals, including BDNF, a brainderived neurotrophic factor. Referred to as “Miracle-Gro for the brain” by Harvard psychiatrist John

6

tips to retain and improve memory function

By Dr. Courtney Cronin, NMD

and when they can efficiently send and receive nerve signals. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips for improving your memory!

some extra work to do. Read books, do crossword puzzles, play cards and strategy games, have lots of interactions with other people, keep a journal, etc.

1

3

Drink more water. Our brains are 75 percent water, and the blood that feeds our brain is 82 percent water. Without enough water, our nerves can’t send their signals as efficiently, and we start to feel “foggy” and tired. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces every day. (If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water.)

The brain is truly an incredible organ, doing everything from cataloguing our days in memory to sending the signals for our muscles to move. Our brains function well when they are exercised regularly (like muscles)

Linda Melone is a health and fitness writer and certified personal trainer.

2

Exercise your brain. Just like muscles — if you don’t use it, you lose it. For most people, a mentally strenuous job is enough the keep the brain active, but if you aren’t working it’s important to give your brain

Eat a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. This will keep your blood sugar more stable, prevent energy spikes and crashes, and provide lots of nutrients and anti-oxidants. All of those things will improve memory and brain function.

4

Get some movement in the rest of your body every day. Especially if you work at a desk or computer, give your brain some time to “disconnect” and re-charge. You will be more efficient in the end, by taking a small break.

5

Get good sleep. Your brain “downloads” the day’s memories into storage at night, while the rest of you is powered down. If you are awake during the night, the brain can’t do its job very well and you won’t retain information.

6

See your doctor for testing. Thyroid conditions, hormonal changes and a myriad of other conditions can create a lot of memory trouble. A simple examination and some lab tests can determine if that’s the case for you.

Dr. Courtney Cronin, NMD is a naturopathic physician with Desert Wellness Center in Maricopa. She practices family medicine with a specialty in natural therapeutics and prevention. For more information, visit Desert WellnessCenter.com.


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Need an inexpensive gift?  The Friends of the Library cookbook “Home Cookin’ from Maricopa Arizona” is filled with 400+ recipes donated by your neighbors. Only $5. Call Kathy 520-568-3274 or buy at Maricopa Public Library. HELP WANTED InMaricopa now hiring Maricopa’s premier media company seeks highly energetic, ambitious “A player” to join its winning team. This 6-year old company has set the standard as the city’s

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nidhca324@yahoo.com Best Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season to you and yours. At this time of sharing, giving and love, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the warm welcome I felt in your community. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, desires and needs so I can work for you. I am excited to be giving my time and efforts for the next two years to make Arizona a better place to work and live. I truly have grown to love our beautiful southern Arizona and it’s people. You are tremendous and I am happy to be acquainted with each of you and to serve you. Please feel free to call me (520) 507-1735 or email me busbarn@vtc.net. This is going to a great year for Arizona as we build a brighter future together.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Representative-Elect Peggy Judd.

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