Unabashed downtown boosterism can be grating to the large majority of Valley residents who don't live within walking distance of Roosevelt Row. Not when Dave Brookhouser and Jacqui Johnson do it. The pair hosts a now long-running (by Internet standards, anyway) weekly vidcast highlighting the best things happening in Central Phoenix. We love their enthusiasm and their willingness to take shots when they're deserved — like, for example, cracking on mispronounced words on the announcements blared over the light-rail train's speakers. It's a mid-fi broadcast with just enough production flair to feel semi-professional, and the upbeat pair are funny and never overbearing. Dave and Jacqui embody the very best sense of community building among the representatives of widely disparate socioeconomic classes present in Central Phoenix, and they manage to make us truly interested in their agenda, wherever we live.
It's not often that someone's tweet brings attention to a U.S. Senate candidate's fear of vampires. That is, unless you're former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Woods' tweets can be as poetic as they can be hilariously offensive. Take this one, for example: "Fat woman asking for extra cream cheese on her bagel. Really?" Our favorite of Woods' many hilarious tweets comes at the expense of former Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth interpreted comments by Woods (who said that a stake needed to be driven through the Senate candidate's heart) as a Dracula-inspired death threat and publicly demanded an apology. What he got was far from it. Here's what Woods tweeted in response: "OK. Enough with JD Hayworth and his Dracula wooden stake paranoia. I think we can put a fork in him. Oh no, did I do it again?"

Best Hangout for Anarchists, Revolutionaries, and Dreamers

Conspire

Aside of Heart (formerly Conspire)
Conspire's the kind of java joint where you might overhear funky, patchouli-oil-smellin', dreadlocked dudes discussing the abolition of money, see some fella reading 19th-century Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin, or find the latest anarchist pamphlet circulating. But don't let that scare you. The cooperatively owned establishment also makes a mean cup of cafe Americano and offers an array of boutique-style handmade gifts that're perfect for the last-minute, apolitical shopper: earrings from Sticker Club Girl, apparel by Arte Puro, insane buttons from Jason Davis, and art, jewelry, and fashions from all over Phoenix. All reasonably priced. And if you don't want to buy anything, they've got an anarchist library in the back, full of books that tell you how you can give the single-finger salute to the man. Whoever said anarchy and capitalism don't mix never paid a visit to Conspire.
Fair Trade Cafe
Lynn Trimble
Fair Trade is the most politically correct coffeehouse in town, where networking is on the bill of fare alongside homemade peanut butter cookies and iced soy-laden chai. Fair Trade makes killer sandwiches, too, and you can enjoy your double-shot latte smug in the knowledge that the coffee beans that went into making it didn't exploit any Central or South American peoples in the process. Meanwhile, you can interact aplenty with candidates in Democratic primaries, lefty activists, and the occasional lawyer fighting the good fight by suing the pants off Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It's got free Wi-Fi, too, which means that many of those same left-leaners, Rachel Maddow watchers, and Keith Olbermann fans set up shop and make the place their office when they can, as they scan Facebook for the latest snippet to bolster their points of view. Do right-wingers have spots like this? Not really, unless you count the latest tea party rally or cross-burnin'.
The truth is that it's the Democrats who could use a few stiff ones right about now, but the other truth is that Republicans are more fun to drink with. Dems are sloppy drunks — they get all mushy about saving the world — while the worst thing that might happen when you're drinking with a Republican is that he might try to leave you with the check. In any case, if you're looking to get down and dirty with some conservatives, we recommend Politics on the Rocks, a monthly GOP-ish confab started in Scottsdale. Beautiful young Republicans get together at tony spots like the Montelucia and Revolver Lounge to press flesh with candidates and engage in like-minded conversation. We hear they let Libertarians in, too. And we all know that they are the most fun of all.
We never thought we'd write this. And surely, you never thought you'd read it. (Not in this newspaper, anyway.) But our accidental governor, derided for her supposed lack of intellect and stuck with a bleak fiscal situation, has proved herself to be an enormously savvy politician. We don't agree with many things that she's done. We truly wish she had never signed the anti-Mexican Senate Bill 1070. But we have nothing but admiration for the way she forced the Legislature into letting the voters decide whether they wanted a tax increase — and, then, despite getting little to no help from cowardly Dems like Terry Goddard, actually won at the polls. Thanks to that, along with the odious 1070, she boxed all her Republican rivals into the narrowest of corners and made the Democrats here look useless, which (sadly) they pretty much are. We would never name her Best Leader, or Best Civil Rights Champion, and certainly not Best Public Speaker, after the Pause Heard 'Round the World. But Best Politician? You betcha.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Elissa Mullany, the First Flame of Phoenix, earned power-couple status after they hired a public relations firm to formally announce to the Valley they were dating.Gordon, 58, has been a generous boyfriend, paying his 38-year-old love interest more than $300,000 to fill his various campaign kitties as his political fundraiser. He also raised her political profile by appointing her to notable city boards and commissions and making it possible for her to mingle with celebrities and dignitaries, including Willie Nelson and Vice President Joe Biden. And Gordon even offered advice to Veolia, the transportation company that employs Mullany, that helped it muscle nearly $30 million out of Phoenix.Befitting a power couple, the pair partied in suites during Super Bowls, traveled on private jets, and traveled around the world to places like Dubai, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.Unfortunately, Gordon and Mullany lately have been behaving more like defiant debutantes than belles of the ball. Flaunting their power-couple status, Gordon and Mullany shield themselves in their proverbial ivory tower by refusing to answer legitimate inquiries about how corporate contributions earmarked for city uses are being spent or about Mullany's professional ties with companies doing business with the city. Gordon, who has held the honor of being mayor of the fifth-largest city in the United States for nearly eight years, is apparently the strong silent type — he continues to refuse to release public records that might further shed light on the perks that come with being the first main squeeze of Phoenix.Ah, the perks of power.
It's rare to find a public information officer as good-humored and helpful as ICE's Vinnie Picard — and that's while you're yelling at him. The guy's no doormat, but as a good PIO is supposed to, he feels journalists' pain, massages their egos, and points them in the right direction. You may dislike ICE's bureaucracy (and dislike what ICE actually does in deporting people), but it's difficult to dislike Vinnie, who is ready with a quote when you need one and never blows you off, even if you're on ICE's case in the worst way. He'll also take the time to explain policy and will call you up to disabuse you of a misconception. A reporter can't ask for much more. Well, ending ICE's deportation policy would be nice, but the man's not God, for Chrissakes. Or Homeland Security czar (and ultimate ICE boss) Janet Napolitano, for that matter.
Phoenix City Hall
The Phoenix City Clerk's Office is not only accommodating in releasing public records (at least the ones at its fingertips), it also helps customers peruse the city's searchable online database for city records, tracks city election results, and catalogs the volumes of public records that state law requires local governments to maintain — everything from minutes of City Council meetings to campaign finance reports for elected officials.The good-natured staff is friendly and almost always smiling. It's hard not to when you have a boss like Norris Cunningham, a city records clerk who oversees the customer service counter. Cunningham's folks don't mind dropping a stack of public records on the counter, giving you a pile of sticky notes, and letting you tag to your hearts' content all the documents you'd like them to copy.For the record, public or otherwise: Kudos to Phoenix City Clerk Mario Paniagua for running a solid operation and having an excellent customer service crew.
Besides retired law enforcement officers and canine search and rescue pros, Jerry "Kelly" Snyder, founder of Find Me, a volunteer organization dedicated to locating missing loved ones, has something most police departments don't: psychics. Snyder, a retired DEA agent, scrutinizes each psychic during a one-year probationary period before adding him or her to his extrasensory stable of over 50 from around the world, where each receives identical case information and employs techniques such as meditation and astrological crime scenes to provide additional investigative info. The cost to families? Nada. Since they started seven years ago, Find Me has located 12 people. At worst, families will have no more information than they had before. At best, the psychic detectives will have brought their loved ones home.

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