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Desperate Sal DiCiccio Ramps up the Spam

In the past seven days, I’ve received six unsolicited emails from Phoenix City Council member Sal Diciccio – along with one each from his wife and from fellow council member Peggy Bilsten. Regardless of the name, they all come from the Sal Diciccio re-election campaign. And they all desperately try to convince readers that Sal DiCiccio is not a small-minded, small-time, ethically dyslexic shyster.

As I’ve written before, I never signed up to receive these emails. DiCiccio has never responded to my questions about how I wound up on his email list. Nor did the City of Phoenix public information officer. My suspicion: DiCiccio, in an act of dubious legality and ethics, culled the city’s email system for addresses to add to his personal and political lists. I’ve received numerous emails from groups with ties to DiCiccio – and I didn’t sign up to receive email from any of them.

But hey, that’s just the "how." Let’s talk about the "why."

I’m getting this haboob of emails because Karlene Keogh Parks, DiCiccio’s opponent in the election, scares him. He’s afraid.

That’s because Keogh Parks supporters have done a great job of laying out the truth: that developers and lobbyists love DiCiccio. Even better, Keogh Parks has the backing of Mayor Greg Stanton. I won’t say Stanton is perfect, but I believe he has the city headed in a good direction -- in a direction that DiCiccio would never travel. The only ideas Sal DiCiccio offers are cutting spending (and therefore services) while demonizing honest city workers by spreading half-truths about what they earn. That’s not enough for a city struggling to modernize and re-invent itself as a real community.

DiCiccio is running so scared that he sent out an email blast in his wife’s name complaining about personal attacks on his family. Any hour, I expect a "be nice to my daddy" message from his daughter. (UPDATE: A few hours after I drafted this, I got another SalMail titled "Watch for Children as Back to School Starts. Nothing says "desperate" like a "won’t someone please think of the children?" email. A second SalMail followed about an hour later.)

If you need more evidence that re-electing DiCiccio is a bad move, read this blog post about his many distortions of fact.

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Save Phoenix Views: Now Serving Spam

Don't worry, Phoenix citizens! Save Phoenix Views will protect your view of this magnificent, er ... nice, um ... somewhat adequate skyline! (Photo courtesy of www.pdphoto.org)

People in Phoenix, Arizona, now have another busybody political group inundating their email accounts with unwanted spam messages. I received my first message from SavePhoenixViews.com on Jan. 20.

The group touts its mission to "protect views" and "pristine Phoenix neighborhoods." Its sworn enemy? Billboards. These slabs of advertising are apparently a threat to "unobstructed views of the skyline, mountains, sunrises and sunsets from your backyard." Yes, that world-renowned Phoenix skyline -- it’s the stuff of postcards and fine works of art. The group wants to ensure that such architectural wonders as the Chase Bank building aren’t hidden behind new billboards or electronic billboards.

I had never heard of this group of superheroes so intent on defending my way of life. I never signed up for its email newsletter. Since I also receive unsolicited emails from Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio, I wondered if this is connected to his brand of small-time Phoenix politics. About a year ago, a group he backed also had me on its e-mail list. And wouldn’t you know, it only took 30 seconds of Google searching to discover a link between DiCiccio and Save Phoenix Views. Clearly, e-mail privacy is not one of his pet crusades. The best thing about my move to Scottsdale is that Sal DiCiccio is not on the Scottsdale City Council.

I’m embarrassed for the people behind Save Phoenix Views. Worries about billboards are the epitome of a "First World Problem." What’s really this group’s motivation? My bet is money. Someone stands to lose, so they’re organizing a "grassroots" campaign to stop the evil billboards (someone puh-leeze save us!). Anyone with an ounce of political knowledge will tell you: Behind every so-called grassroots neighborhood movement is money and hired PR guns dressing it up all folksy and down-home. I haven’t figured out the money trail yet, but it has to be there considering the efforts to the group has made and the money it has spent. It would be nice to see a full-time journalist with time and resources put Save Phoenix Views under the microscope (hint, hint – that’s my Bat Signal to The Arizona Republic).

The e-mail I received came to me "via politicalcommunicationsspecialists.com." Naturally, I went to the URL -- and got a white screen with the words "Could not locate requested resource".  

This means someone is hiding. Typical dirty Phoenix politics. So far, 15,000 people have signed a petition to get the group’s wad of "Whereas", "Notwithstanding" and "Therefore" on the ballot. It’s been nearly a decade since I was a news reporter – but I remember a Maricopa County official who told me every item on the ballot costs upward of $200,000. Does Phoenix have that kind of money to spend on non-problems?

The group also wrings its hands about higher accident rates from drivers being distracted by electronic billboards. I’ll swallow that line of BS only if every single person who signed the petition will look me in the eye and say "That’s right, I’ve never used my cell phone or texted/e-mailed while I drive." I’d bet a year’s pay that phone use distracts far more drivers and causes far more accidents than electronic billboards do.

Who could, in good conscience, put such energy into such a trifling cause? A few suggestions for more important matters: Address the many empty buildings, the waste of water, the unsustainable building, the tax handouts to big businesses.

I also sent an e-mail to the group asking to know how I wound up on its distribution list. Let’s see if anyone responds.

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Phoenix Councilman Again Shows Contempt for City Employees

I just got an ominous e-mail from Sal DiCiccio, the councilman for District 6 in Phoenix. Its subject line: "This will shock you." The title is "What do you get?". 

Councilman DiCiccio says this: "A first-year city of Phoenix clerk gets 40 and a half days off [scary bold text Sal’s], including vacation, holidays and sick time. That’s two months off — and an afternoon — in the first year of employment. And the days off keep going up as the years go by."

Wow, Councilman. That sounds like the benefits packages enjoyed by most of the civilized world save the United States, where we pride ourselves on working people into a stupor. I interpret this information as the city doing something right for its employees – giving them time to improve themselves through travel. To indulge their curiosity. To refresh themselves. Congrats! Yay, city of Phoenix for doing the right thing!

But wait! That’s not what Councilman DiCiccio is saying. He thinks it’s a bad thing to allow workers time to be more than wage slaves. I mean, what if they travel and create some great memories with the bounty of their time off? What if they go abroad and see that other First World countries have universal health care and copious amounts of vacation time? Oh, the horror. I also love cooking the statistics to include sick time.

"If employees don’t use all their time off, they get to cash in the remaining days like casino chips," Councilman DiCiccio intones, "and guess who the bank is? You and your family." [again, scary bold text Sal’s]

Gasp! You mean my Little Timmy (note: Wandering Justin has no offspring named Timmy. This is sarcasm.) is paying for those bums to go on vacation? Do you hear my howls of indignation and my weeping and gnashing of teeth? I’d also like verifiable proof that employees get to "cash in" their sick time. Remember, we know Sal "lacks specific details and numbers." And how many state and federal holidays are included in that 40.5 days?

Councilman, this is exactly the way things should work in a productive, prosperous, industrialized society. (And yes, dammit – we’re prosperous when every college kid has an iPhone.) I’m perfectly fine with my tax dollar being used to treat city employees like real people with real lives, interests and aspirations instead of worker bee drones.

Councilman DiCiccio, you have it back-asswards. You should be crusading against business owners who do the bare minimum for their employees. Laud your city’s paid time off policies. Hold them up as what decent business owners should aspire to do for their employees. Show them that fair amounts of vacation time are beneficial to people’s health, sanity and productivity.

But you’re afraid to do that, aren’t you? Because I’ll bet those same business owners will stuff your campaign coffers when you run for mayor (keep in mind – I don’t live in Sal DiCiccio’s district. So why does he send me these e-mails? To start his campaign for mayor. As I’ve mentioned before, I never even signed up for his newsletter.). If you fail to toe the line, you’ll see fewer campaign contributions.

No. It’s easier for you to throw truly hard-working and deserving people under the steamroller.

Leader? No. Politician? To the very core.