After the meeting was called to order by President Allan Cady, Geoff White offered the invocation and Warren Williamson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Wendell Jones introduced his guests:  his lovely wife, Carolyn, and his neighbors, Suzanne and Morgan Davis, stating both were very active Rotarians in their past.  Lucinda General introduced PDG George Wheeler as "our favorite visiting Past District Governor."  Yordi, who will be our outbound Youth Exchange student in 2018-19 was attending with his mother, Mrs. Miguel.  Yordi was looking forward to attending Rotary Youth Leadership Awards at Camp Pinerock in Prescott January 12-15.  Guest, Kristen Klein chose the badge number for the attendance drawing.  Because the pot had rolled over from the past two meetings, winner John Benedict won $15, which he gave to Kristen.

The weekly drawing was won by Dick Myren.  He received $43, but failed to draw the ace of clubs, so the $701 pot will roll on to grow even larger at our January 18 meeting.  Chuck Flint apologized for incorrectly overstating the size of the growing pot at the January 4 meeting.
Chuck Flint introduced a new Buck Board and provided background about its purpose of raising money for The Rotary Foundation and making one lucky winner eligible for Paul Harris Fellow recognition.  The board has 100 squares, which sell for $10 each.  When the board is full, numbers 1-10 will be randomly drawn and assigned to eliminate each row and column, gradually eliminating all but the final winner's square.  $1,000 will be sent to The Rotary Foundation in their name and they will receive a receipt from TRF for their tax-deductible donation.  Members can charge the cost of each square they purchase, and guests are asked to pay cash.
Pam Cohen announced she had a basket to raffle containing items she brought back from their Christmas trip to Rocky Point Mexico.
She also announced that she would be bidding for Chris Krueger.  After some competitive bidding, Pam's proxy $75 bid won the basket for Chris.
Bob Jensen paid happy bucks for the membership application which has been submitted by Kristen Klein, making his long-time dream of having another audiologist in our club one giant step closer to a dream-come-true.  Don Boucher paid happy bucks for the $12,400 donated by Mesa West Members to The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona in 2017, far exceeding the $5,000 commitment President Allan had made to District Governor, Nancy Van Pelt during her official visit to the Mesa Rotary Clubs.  Steve Ross paid happy bucks for his 71st birthday.  Terry Diedrick paid happy bucks for making it to the meeting.  He had made a New Years resolution to start attending meetings regularly, then had to miss the first meeting of the year.  Ron Thompson donated $50 to the foundation toward his Paul Harris Fellow.  President Allen pledged to Pay $1 for each person wearing their Rotary pin for the next few meetings, costing him $20 for those wearing pins at the meeting.
  • The Mesa East Rotary Club has been invited to join us at our After Holiday party at Dan and Colleen Coons' home on January 20.  Sign-up sheets were circulating at the meeting to help with planning.  CLICK HERE to download the event flyer.
  • President Allan asked members to check out the Club website noting there have been some recent enhancements made to the site.  CLICK HERE to go directly to the site.
  • Our next meeting will be "Law Enforcement Thursday."
  • The January 25 meeting will feature a "Salute to Rod Daniels."
  • Dan Coons reminded members to help find host families in the Westwood High School District, but indicated, it can be a different school under the right circumstances.
Mayor John Giles started his presentation by stating that as both an attorney and politician, he has a well-honed ability to be boring.  He encouraged members to ask questions throughout his presentation to keep the meeting lively and interesting.
The first question was about Fiesta Mall.  He stated that the Fiesta District has declined use.  It used to be the financial capital of Mesa.  Money has been spent on appearance and infrastructure.  The mall is struggling.  This is not unique to Mesa.  Retail stores are struggling everywhere with the increased popularity and convenience of shopping on line.  The mall itself is owned by five entities, none of which are the City of Mesa.  This makes it very difficult for the city to have any voice in managing the situation.  It is apparent there is a waiting game going on with each entity hoping all the others will feel financial stress and sell their interest to them at a price much lower than the property would be worth if it were all one parcel.  There is another nearby shopping center with a chain link fence around it.  The good news is that there is a mixed-use development coming in that location soon.  
There was a question about a redevelopment area north of Broadway off Alma School.  The state has given municipalities a few legal tools.  One of them is to declare a redevelopment district, which gives owners the ability to put what would normally be their tax obligation back into property improvements to incentivize redevelopment.
The light rail project, started over twenty years ago, has made believers out of former skeptics.  The improvements to the corridor are evident.  They are currently working on extending the light rail to Gilbert Road with a park and ride lot planned at Main and Gilbert.  Both senior citizens and millennials embrace light rail.  It is very cost effective for ASU students.
John Pennypacker inquired about the possibility of allowing long-term parking at the light rail park and ride lots in the future.  The mayor was unaware that long term parking was not currently allowed, and said he would look into that.  Since the light rail goes to all the terminals at Sky Harbor, it was noted it would be very helpful for east-valley residents when they travel by air.  
There is a new business coming to Mesa.  Dexcom offers continuious glucose monitoring.  They will have a "clean room" atmosphere at the site of the old Motorola building.
When Williams Air Force Base was returned to local administration in the 90's, the Mayor said he felt like the "dog that caught the car."  It has turned out to be a real boon, with freeway access, large employers, master-planned housing.  People and successful businesses are settling into the area.
The last census took Mesa from the 38th to the 36th largest city in the US with the population going over 500,000.  Growth in population creates responsibility to respond to infrastructure and public safety needs.  It is one of the best of its size with Mesa's emphasis on education and it is very affordable compared to other cities of its size.  Mesa has a low tax base for both sales tax and property tax.
Crime is down nation-wide and Mesa does relatively well in this area.  The police department is very busy.  It is the 8th safest big city in the United States.  When asked if the Police Department is fully staffed, the Mayor responded "barely."  There is always a need for a few more police officers and  a few more firefighters.  
One big problem for the city is the unfunded liability for retirement benefits.  The city is on a payment plan to close that gap.  He stated that to meet the realistic needs of the city, Mesa is probably undertaxed.  He is in favor of proposing to voters to raise sales tax with the increase to be used for public safety staff only.
When asked what he liked most about being Mayor, he responded that while it is much more than a full-time job (it is a 24/7 job) it is the "funnest job I've ever had!"
When asked how it impacted his law practice, he said he has no time to do that at all.  He bragged about the work his wife, Dawn is doing as the Chair of the board for the Idea Museum, which he sees as the life blood of downtown Mesa.  He remembers years ago looking out a window in downtown Mesa and watching a dog limp across Main Street, and what was haunting and sad about that memory was that the dog was in no danger at all.  He is proud that downtown Mesa is a happening place now.  
The city's annual budget is $1.6 Billion.  He indicated that the city tries to deal with local vendors, but the codes and bidding processes are very regulated.
He urged nerds to attend the Brookings Institute event January 16th, and encouraged members to attend a Chamber event on February 6th, when he will deliver his State of the City speech.