A little background: DiCiccio originally represented Ahwatukee on the City Council for six years in the '90s, retiring in 2000 to run for Congress. He lost that race, lost one for Arizona Secretary of State, and then virtually disappeared from public life. (He held a seat on the county planning commission for a year but retired from that in 2002.)

DiCiccio's vacation from politics ended in January, when DiCiccio's replacement, Greg Stanton, announced he was leaving to take a job with the Attorney General's Office.

At that point, DiCiccio threw his hat in the ring. But at the "interview" session with the City Council in February, where he lobbied to be chosen, DiCiccio never said he was a developer with holdings in the Loop 202 area. Instead, he called himself a "businessman." Some business: Zenith Development is based out of DiCiccio's home and he appears to be its only employee.

DiCiccio repeated the same vague talk even after the council chose him to replace Stanton. In a televised interview on the city's On the Issues cable TV show, host David J. Ramirez asked DiCiccio what he'd been doing in the years since he left the council.

"I started my own business," DiCiccio replied. "I've been very successful, very happy with it." He didn't elaborate.

And while DiCiccio's supporters suggested in response to our initial blog post that DiCiccio disclosed the project at the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Commission meeting in February, the minutes don't reflect that — and at least one member in attendance told me flatly that DiCiccio did not mention his development plans. "I can say that with certainty," the member says.

DiCiccio also didn't mention it during council debates, nor did he disclose it to many of the stakeholders with whom he was working on the freeway issue. In May, DiCiccio convened the first-ever Loop 202 meeting involving ADOT, the Maricopa Association of Governments, and Democratic congressmen Harry Mitchell and Ed Pastor, who represent Tempe and Phoenix, respectively. Mitchell's spokesman, Adam Bozzi, confirms that Mitchell wasn't aware of DiCiccio's business plans for 40th and Pecos until hearing about the issue from New Times last week.

DiCiccio also failed to disclose the plans to the "kitchen cabinet" he assembled to look at locating the extension on the Gila River reservation. One member, Mike Hinz, tells me that DiCiccio did talk about his development plans in a private meeting with Hinz. But other members confirm that DiCiccio's development wasn't a subject discussed at the "cabinet" meetings. At least one member, lobbyist Jaime Molera, tells me that he was completely unaware of DiCiccio's development interest in the area.

Now, it would be one thing if DiCiccio had a lot of different development projects on his plate. But it strikes me as an interesting omission considering that the tribal-owned leases are the only record I could find of DiCiccio developing much of anything.

Indeed, the record shows that DiCiccio has been working on the tribal project for at least four years. State records show that he formed his partnership with Levine and Davidson in 2005. DiCiccio secured leases for the two 75-acre parcels in December 2007 and January 2008, according to his financial disclosure forms.

Both leases are for 65 years.

And both leases would be worth much more if the Loop 202 gets completed — no matter what route it takes.

Greg Stanton, who represented the area on the City Council from 2000 to 2008, had taken a virtual "over my dead body" approach to the freeway extension. When Stanton announced he was leaving the council earlier this year, DiCiccio must have smelled opportunity. He got himself appointed to the council and almost immediately began to work on bringing the neighborhood together.

First, there was that meeting with ADOT and the congressmen. Then, there were his curious remarks to a neighborhood group in June, telling them the freeway was coming and, in essence, they'd better get used to the idea. Then, in September, DiCiccio assembled the "kitchen cabinet" group to speak with one voice about an attractive alternative — an alternative that just happened to benefit his development plans.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have to question whether DiCiccio got back on the council simply to work on the Loop 202 issue from a better perch.

The fact is, despite all the questions percolating about him at City Hall these days, DiCiccio is still the odds-on favorite to win November 3. Thanks to a huge influx of donations from developers, he's been able to outspend his rival, former social worker/AFL-CIO spokeswoman Dana Marie Kennedy by a ratio of 6 to 1.

I was initially distracted by all that cash. To date, DiCiccio has taken $265,000 in campaign contributions, more than two-thirds of it from developers and people doing business with the city. That includes $3,790 from people associated with Ellman Development (which hopes to build a condo tower at 24th Street and Camelback), $2,700 from Vestar Development (which built Desert Ridge), and $2,250 from Clean Energy (which has a fuel contract for the city's buses).

It's one thing to imagine, though, what DiCiccio might be willing to do for a few grand in campaign contributions. It's quite another to imagine what he might be do when millions of his own dollars are at stake.

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9 comments
Oliver
Oliver

I'm not so sure the "vast majority" of Ahwatukee residents oppose this freeway. I think the ones against it are actually a very loud minority.

James W McHugh
James W McHugh

what da hey, Deconcini, Renzi, DiCiccio- These bums are giving us a bad name! Al Capone

Balance
Balance

I am aware that Sarah is the journalist. I am waiting for Mr. Diciccio's opponent to use this opportunity to step up and show us her leadership skills. If she is going to take this office, she has an opportunity to do more than just complain about how her predecessor did things wrong. She can work to change the policy that allowed this to happen in the first place. She seems to be having too much fun with the conflict when she could be telling us how it should be done if it's going to be done better. She's wasting a wonderful opportunity. If she cannot do that, voting the incumbent out means putting an unknown quantity in...and I'm not convinced it is the better option. Action. Solutions. Stop the negative stuff and start showing us how it will be different.

SunDevilRick
SunDevilRick

To Balance:Sarah is not a candidate, she is a journalist. It is not her job to propose solutions it is her job to expose the problem. It is the job of the voters to fix the problem and vote Sal out.

Balance
Balance

Enough gloating already...that doesn't fix the identified problem.

I'm more interested in the candidate's point by point call for action regarding the situation. Does she have one?

What does she intend to do, specifically, as a council candidate to keep this kind of situation from happening again?

What kind of specific situations would she suggest, if she were in office, it would be appropriate and necessary for her to recuse herself from...and does she pledge to do so?

solutions
solutions

I am truly appalled that this has not already been brought out into the light of day, and I would certainly hope that the Arizona Republic, which "heartily" endorsed Sal, would write about this, and change their endorsement.

I absolutely hate these politicians who do it only for their own pocketbook, and that is exactly what Sal is doing - Sal and his pals.......we have got to get rid of these people!

And his mouthpeice, Jason Rose is ridiculously attacking Sal's opponent, Dana Kennedy because she makes a whopping 24k a year to run a non-profit group which helps women. Trust me, at 24k a year, she has definitely not mishandled the money!

As the matter of fact, as this article states, she has run an ethical hardworking campaign with a lot less money then Sal and his developer pals have. Seems to me, we should elect the honest candidate ( Kennedy) who knows how to stretch a buck , and actually cares about the city, not her pocketbook!

Mary
Mary

It's clear, Sal says one thing and always does another.

This guy created problems for Phoenix in the 90s and will keep doing so unless we get this guy out of office.

He just wants to make money off of the tax payees backs and I won't have it.

RJM
RJM

Thank you for pressing the hard issues. Our councilman is selling our interests for those of his developer buddies.

He needs to decide where his loyalty lies. Is it with his constituents or land development firms and his own self-interest?

I hope it that it is with his constituents. In which case he will excuse himself from all future debates about the Loop 202 both on the city council and his advocacy group.

Once an elected official, you cannot arbitrarily stop to operate in that position. His actions outside the council and on the council cannot be judged in two separate spheres as he is clearly using the influence of his position as a councilman in both spheres.

Please be honest with us councilman DiCiccio.

**To the rest of you, please refrain from personally attacking the journalist. Debate issues not some pseudo-character you invent.

JC GAL
JC GAL

I'm really confused because why would a Phoenix City Council member have to vote on a zoning project for a Walmart on the Gila reservation when the land does not reside in Phoenix?

 
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