Political Tricks: Drake Comparing His Pre-2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis Performance to Arl Hts Post Crisis Performance

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Ron Drake presents himself as the former successful mayor of Avondale, Arizona who served from 2000-2006. He marks his success by bragging that Avondale experienced unprecedented growth. His campaign web site explains that Money Magazine ranked Avondale 3rd in the U.S. for job growth from 2000-2005. Avondale built a City Hall, a police administration building, a courthouse, fire station, a regional library, and a 55-acre regional park. The City of Avondale also upgraded five city parks and made many improvements to streets and infrastructure.

Many readers might absorb these stats and believe this was Ron Drake’s miraculous work to bring in business, jobs and people to his city. Certainly that is what he would like the voters of Arlington Heights to believe. A little further digging into the whole truth brings a different understanding.

Avondale, Arizona is part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, which is also known as the Valley of the Sun. Long before Ron Drake was mayor of Avondale, the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, including Avondale was already experiencing spectacular growth. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area increased by 45.3 percent from 1990 through 2000. That’s compared to the United States average of 15 percent. In the 1990s, Arizona was the second fastest growing state in the United States of America. The 2000 Census reported the population of the metropolitan area of Phoenix was 3,251,876. The 2010 Census reported population of the metropolitan area of Phoenix was 4,192,887.

The next decade, which included the tenure of Mayor Ron Drake, the entire area was booming. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area grew by 941,011 people from April 2000 to April 2010. Only part of that growth was the City of Avondale — from about 35,883 to 76,238. As of 2010, the population of the Valley of the Sun, including Phoenix and Avondale makes up more than two-thirds of Arizona’s population.

That explains political trick number one — the deception of magnitude. If the reader doesn’t know that the entire Phoenix area expanded, it appears there was something special about Avondale — that Ron Drake was the cause of the influx of business, jobs and people into Avondale. That’s a misperception.

Political trick number two is unfair comparison. Ron Drake is comparing his PRE-global financial crisis tenure as mayor to his opponent’s POST-global financial crisis tenure. Like Avondale, Arlington Heights appeared to be doing very well in 2000, even without riding the coat tails of a larger metropolitan area’s expansion. Arlington Town Square was built in Arlington Heights at Sigwalt Street and Evergreen Avenue, and was the last Chicago area high-rise built in the 20th Century. Luxury condominiums inside the 14-story high rise included gourmet kitchens with many small shops and a brand new Arlington Theater just around the corner to Arlington Town Square. This followed the construction in the late 1990’s of a brand new Metra train station with handicap access, and coincided with upgrades to the downtown area. There were high hopes for downtown Arlington Heights as the restaurant business grew.

However, both communities have been affected by a decline with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The housing crisis loomed for both communities — foreclosures up, and construction down.

The Phoenix Metropolitan area, including Avondale, has experienced an especially difficult time. For the first quarter of 2011, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area had 36,422 foreclosure filings. Compare that to 21,192 foreclosure filings in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia area.

The Phoenix area, including Avondale, Arizona ranks #4 among 20 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates. The Las Vegas area ranks #1, followed by Modesto, California, and Stockton, California.

The State of Arizona ranks #2 in foreclosure filings; Illinois ranks #10 (All foreclosure stats provided by RealtyTrac).

Now the City of Avondale is faced with aggressive management of foreclosed homes. Banks in Avondale, Arizona are struggling with a large number of foreclosed properties they hold. The City of Avondale City Council allocated $35,000 to address weed abatement in neighborhoods. Between July 2008 and March 2009, a total of 345 foreclosed properties have been cleared of weeds as a result of city intervention – half of which were handled by the property owners, the other half through city abatement. During late 2008 to early 2009, Avondale received $2.4 million to redevelop foreclosed properties — the funds designated to attract homeowners into vacant properties. Residents in Avondale are advocating strict laws and stiff fines to penalize absent owners. Banks are often the entities that are held responsible for abandoned properties, and associated vandalism and graffiti. The City of Avondale attempts to remove graffiti within 48 hours from the time the graffiti is reported.

Former Mayor Ron Drake left Avondale, Arizona and returned to Arlington Heights in 2007.

In politics and getting votes, its all about perception.

See also …

West Valley View Guest Commentary by Marie Lopez Rogers Avondale takes proactive approach to foreclosures

Avondale Code Enforcement Page …

Neighborhood Inspection Avondale Proud Neighborhood Focus Program

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  1. I’m out of AH and IL now, but after 30 years of being a resident of AH, I still watch the politics there.
    Drake would never have got our four votes and you articles have re-enforced that even more.
    Keep up the great work!

  2. So…Ron Drake had no impact on the growth in Avondale due to the growth in Phoenix during his tenure. However, it’s his fault that there are weeds on the lots of foreclosed properties. Got it. Thanks for the article.

  3. Brian — Too bad you want to perpetuate the “misperception” that Ron Drake needs to win. Your synopsis of the article is not at all what was said, and you know it …


    Lots of people moved to Arizona, accompanied by economic growth, before and during Drake’s time as mayor

    The economy collapsed in 2007, the year following Drake’s resignation as mayor

    Communities almost everywhere experienced housing stalls and foreclosures

    Ron Drake knew that the bottom that fell out in hypergrown Avondale would cause an especially bad situation there with many empty, foreclosed houses and increased crime

    Ron Drake packed up his family and got out of of the city with a rising crime rate

    He looked for a good town to live in, and chose to move his family back to financially stable Arlington Heights where there was careful planning and careful growth, far less foreclosures, and a low crime rate

    Then he decided to re-enter politics and persuade voters in Arlington Heights to focus on the negative things about Arlington Heights, and exaggerate that negativity

    Being an ad man, he realized the consumers (voter) of his campaign message could be pitched to see his success BEFORE the financial collapse of 2007, while simultaneously pitching the consumers (voter) to see the hardships his political opponents were experiencing AFTER the financial collapse

    Ron Drake hopes Arlington Heights voters won’t pay enough attention to understand that the spectacular growth in Arizona while he was mayor was NOT only happening in Avondale, and wasn’t just a matter of him being in the right place at the right time

    He then bases his campaign on half-truths about his success, and attacks his political opponents based on more half-truths, exaggerations, and alliances with people who he could easily persuade their economic disappointment into thinking about blame from a global perception to a local perception. He even attempts to mislead voters concerning the source of the majority of property taxes and promises to cap property taxes when he knows that he and the board really won’t have control over much of the piece of the pie that can raise property taxes (school districts).


  4. I’m disheartened by your article as I typically trust the Arlington Cardinal for an unbiased opinion. I would say this article goes against everything wrong with journalism today! A slanted view with a bias toward the authors candidate. Far too often are mouths are open and are minds are closed! It should be the other way around!! To gorw the community we need to focus on changing our perspective. The same perspective would only lead us to stagnant results in a community thirsty for growth!! Lets all keep an open mind and stop slandering!! Most importantly… get out and vote!!

  5. @Tim — I agree with what you wrote, but I don’t think you wrote what you were trying to say. I partially agree, The Cardinal article “goes against everything wrong with journalism today!” I would replace ‘everything’ with ‘what is often’ wrong with journalism. I ALSO think there are problems with journalism, but it has more to do with journalists being lap dogs for politicians or governments. Most cable-TV news, newspapers and blogs have an Opinion-Editorial section or episode. Some are all propaganda for a certain party or agenda (that’s bad), while some hit on some awesome exposures of problems with the system or a particular government leader (that’s good). It’s not absolutely biased of The Cardinal to write something with sourced facts and leave it open to discussion. Free Speech and Freedom of the Press are far more important than overly attempting to comply with what readers want to read … or trying to be a pansy and trying to please all readers. Will The Cardinal be wrong sometimes? Yes. By the way the response to the Drake articles has been high volume and intense. I have been called the best journalist in the world and the worst journalist in a period of days.

    The trend toward disaster for Democracy related to The Press, which is actually unofficially the Fourth Branch of Government … after The Executive, The Judicial, and the Legislative, is that many people don’t respect discourse. The Press — the Fourth Branch of government doesn’t have the direct power of government, but it has the unpolished draft collective power of the Mind of the People. And that collective dynamic mind should always have power, or we are toast as a Democracy. The Press can’t convict a politician for his actions, but right or wrong, it can wake up people to think for themselves.

    You have a right to disagree with what I wrote. What is really wrong with society today is that peoples’ minds and emotions have not reached a maturity to catch up with the volume of content and opinions that are made available by the massive technology related to 24-hour news, the Internet and associated news blogs and political blogs.

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