My View

BY DON SORCHYCH  |  May 25, 2016

Mayor and councilman
The Chip and Hogs N’ Horses

Our retiring Mayor Vincent Francia has been honored for being a Buddhist. I guess it is rare for a white guy to be a Buddhist and although he tends to hide his religion most of the time, he speaks and acts from the Middle Way.

There are also other views, such as an ex-mayor of Cave Creek who wonders how a Buddhist could be running a race track which is not only about gambling but involves associating with shady characters.

I have only seen Francia drop his Buddhist robe a few times. During our forum, while challenging slate members were being vetted, vexatious Eileen Wright fired false accusations about the town. Francia jumped with fury and called her down for her accusations. Since that time, even though he was right, he put on his robe and has been apologetic.

Recently, an opening on council existed to replace Mark Lipsky who resigned. It was decided to have the names pulled out of a basket to determine the order on which the nominees would be voted. In the basket were well-known, long-time resident John Ford and Francia’s neighbor and friend Russ Carlson. Ford was picked first and voted in with a 3-2 vote. Councilmen Ernie Bunch and Dick Esser and Councilwoman Susan Clancy voted yes while Francia and Vice Mayor Steve LaMar voted no. Ford was the best pick given this competition and his love of Cave Creek.

The next day, Francia called Esser, who is also his friend and neighbor and, as Esser put it, Francia dropped his Buddhist robe and royally chewed him out for not voting for Carlson. Esser who likes to be everyone’s friend was hurt and even suggested he may drop out in June to give Carlson a council seat. I told him he should evaluate Carlson online and see what he finds. Esser said he already knew there were complaints from Carlson’s neighbors and he had personally visited him and suggested he clean his place up.

So why would Esser give him a path to council? He said he was tired. Esser has been on both sides of controversy but few have the state contacts he has and he has been a devoted politocrat including 30 years with ADOT.

We are sorry he is retiring, but wish he hadn’t engineered Town Manager Peter Jankowski’s raise and one year extension or allowed his friendship with the Mayor to influence his votes.

Despite of all that, Esser stands above any member of the emerging slate.

Hogs N’ Horses

The site plan for the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse has been approved by council for Larry Wendt to rebuild his historic business.

You probably know that the Steffen family wanted a fortune for the half acre parcel where the original Buffalo Chip was located, which was leased by Wendt and forced him east on to the 5.2 acres he purchased from NFL legend Max McGee. That situation results in a shortage of parking when you consider the huge crowds that adore bull riding.

But perhaps there is a silver lining. Negotiations have been underway for months to sell Hogs N’ Horses (HGH). Owner T.C. Thorstenson attempted to compete with the Chip, some say to put Wendt out of business.

But the arson happened at the Chip, which gave HGH a brief business spurt. Apparently HGH has not been profitable, but a number of potential buyers have kicked the tires.

BTW, the next printed version of My View, June 1, will concentrate on why MCSO has not arrested the criminal that torched the Chip. I am a 100 percent supporter of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his reelection. I know what federal government is trying to do to Joe and why. However, that doesn’t explain why the MCSO Arson Division hasn’t performed. I know a great deal about what evidence exists and there is no excuse why the arsonist isn’t in jail. So visit My View on the first of June, which is the last day council candidates must turn in their petition signatures.

Now, back to the proposed purchase of HNH … The potential buyer is close to a decision and his plans, we are told, include a 250-car parking area which will be shared with other businesses including the Chip. Hopefully that will solve a problem on bull riding nights and other important events.

Although I have never visited HGH, I am told that right after you enter the building from the front you are almost immediately outside in the back, so major renovation is planned.

I think the plan is to have rodeo events, perhaps even mounted shooting.

When Thorstenson came to Cave Creek he had sold a large parcel in Scottsdale and may have had an estate settlement with his deceased wife’s family. He invested in property which is usually a tactic to avoid immediate taxation. I have heard, maybe in anticipation of the HNH sale, that he is scouting Cave Creek for other property purchases.

One of the properties he purchased is the infamous Julie Terry six-acre parcel behind the Roadhouse next to Petite Acres trailer park. Thorstenson and the owners of Petite Acres are suing the town of Cave Creek, claiming the town is responsible for damage to their property from flooding. There may be backroom deals being considered to trade the lawsuit for commercial zoning of the Terry property. However, the access street to that property is inadequate for commercial use. There appears to be an easement through the Roadhouse parking lot to the Terry property, which would be an interesting alternative with interesting outcomes.