Entries in Arizona (5)


How Golfer Arnold Palmer Became a Drink to an Entire Generation

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With his unmistakable swing – and charm – seven-time major champion Arnold Palmer helped bring professional golf into the television era.

In fact, Tiger Woods and other professional golfers teed off today for the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, hosted by the 83-year-old. The legendary golfer still draws a crowd and his name is bigger than ever.

That’s also partly because of a combination of two classics -- iced tea and lemonade -- that Palmer popularized and that’s become one of  the fastest-growing beverages in the U.S.

Palmer said it all started at a Palm Springs, Calif., restaurant in the 1960s.

“I said: ‘Would you make me an iced tea and bring some pure lemonade?’ -- and she said, ‘Sure,’” Palmer told ABC News. “I had a big glass of iced tea and I put lemonade on it and, boy, was it good! Well, a lady at a table nearby heard me do that and she said, ‘I want a Palmer.’”

He didn’t make any money off his namesake drink until recently, when he teamed with Arizona Beverage Co., a market leader in the iced tea space. It did not immediately catch on, though, as most considered the drink to fit a niche market of golfers on the course.

“Over the first few years, I say, most companies our size would have given up on it,” said Don Vultaggio, Arizona’s chairman. “Because, you know, if the numbers don’t reach what I’ll call a ‘meaningful number’ after six months, most large companies will say, ‘Eh, it’s not worth it.’”

Vultaggio said he didn’t give up on the idea, though, because he liked Palmer and believed, “there was gold there, but it was deep down.”

Without advertising, Arizona’s “Arnold Palmer” did nearly $200 million in sales in the U.S. last year, making it the fourth-largest iced tea brand in the nation behind Arizona, Lipton and Snapple.

Neither Palmer nor Arizona would reveal how much the golfer makes off the deal, but it is one of the reasons why, in 2012, Palmer, whose last tournament win came 25 years ago, earned more than any other golfer except Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Today, some of his biggest customers are teenagers, according to Arizona. Some may know him more as a face on a can than for his prowess on the course.

“Some of the kids are asked about the Arnold Palmer and they say: ‘Oh the drink!’ They don’t know that I played golf,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


$500,000 Medical Marijuana Loan Up In Smoke

David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sometimes even the best-laid plans go up in smoke. And sometimes these plans end up costing a lot of money.

That's what happened to Mark Haile and Michele Hammer, two Arizona businesspeople who in August, 2010, each loaned $250,000 to Today's Health Care II (THC), a Colorado-based medical marijuana dispensary. The agreements specifically stated that THC was using the loan proceeds for "a retail medical marijuana sales and grow center," but neither Haile nor Hammer thought that would ever be a problem.

Marijuana is legal in Arizona and Colorado (along with 14 other states and the District of Columbia); patients simply need a physician's prescription and they are legally allowed to obtain pot for medicinal purposes.

In fact, as far as Haile and Hammer were concerned, it was a smart business move. In California, for example, medical cannabis is an estimated $1.3 billion industry (Colorado is the nation's second-largest market). Why not get in on a potentially lucrative enterprise?

Talk about a pot of gold.

But in March 12, 2011, THC defaulted on its loan. According to the original terms, THC had five days to re-pay its debt. If it didn't, Haile and Hammer were entitled to repayment of the principal loan amount at a default interest rate of 21 percent, plus attorney fees.

By March 17, THC still hadn't paid anything, so Hammer and Haile sued, clearly expecting to win.

But they didn't. Instead, in his April 17 ruling, Judge Michael McVey, of Maricopa County Superior Court, dismissed the suit, stating that he couldn't enforce the loan agreement because the money was for an illegal purpose under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, a federal law. While he recognized his ruling was "harsh," federal law trumps state law, and THC doesn't have to repay any part of either loan (although it will have to report the $500,000 as taxable income).

Lawyers for Haile and Hammer could not be reached for comment. But in a Phoenix New Times, story Randy Nussbaum, managing partner of the law firm that represented them, expressed surprise. Haile and Hammer "were provided with what they thought was a legitimate business opportunity, and they entered into this agreement in good faith," he said.

William Kozub, THC's lawyer, was not surprised with the verdict. "It's a classic supremacy issue--federal versus state," he said. "Take the marijuana out of it. Just make it a regular commercial dispute for something that's illegal under federal law. It's that simple. Drug lords from Colombia cannot come to court and say 'They sold me bad cocaine.' The Taliban can't sue in US federal court because they had a kidnapping gone awry. Certain things are just illegal."

Though the case can't set legal precedent, it does raise interesting questions for people involved in the medical marijuana industry, or those interested in getting involved: banks, individual investors, landlords, suppliers, medical directors, independent contractors and yes, even patients.

Over the last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency has raided dozens of dispensaries across the country, most notably in California.

It is unclear whether Haile or Hammer will appeal. But Morgan Fox, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national non-profit marijuana reform organization, thinks the entire issue needs to be resolved. "In 2009, the Department of Justice announced that they were not going to use resources going after people who were in compliance with state medical marijuana laws, effectively saying they were choosing not to enforce federal law under certain conditions," he said. "Since that time, those conditions have evolved. The definition of who the DOJ is choosing to ignore and what they consider to be in compliance with state law is certainly getting narrower, but it is also becoming more and more vague."

Richard Keyt, a business attorney in Phoenix who runs a medical marijuana law web site, agreed. "Clearly, lenders need to take notice of this case because they might not be able to enforce their loan, which is what's happening in this particular case," he said. "But it has a broader meaning--it may mean that no contract involving medical marijuana dispensaries, or anything relating to medical marijuana, would be enforced. They're going to be the bad boy for the dispensary industry. Who wants to do business with somebody if you can't enforce your contract?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bidding for Arizona Home Starts at a Penny

Courtesy Todd Talbot(GLENDALE, Ariz.) -- A 4-bedroom, 2-bath Arizona home with wood-burning fireplace, appraised at $125,000, is being auctioned for bids of a penny each, in what the promoter believes is the first auction of its kind on the Internet.

Penny auctions for electronic and other kinds of consumer goods are already common, but this appears to be the first such auction for real estate.

Bidding opened last week.  An open-house on Sunday sent offers skyrocketing from Friday's high of 5 cents to Monday's 15 cents.

Todd Talbot, creator and owner of the website, describes the 1,749-square foot property as a completely remodeled, "turn-key" home, just waiting for the winning bidder to move in.  He bought it at foreclosure in January for $81,000, then put in $20,000 of improvements.  The home has new carpet in the bedrooms and living room, new paint, new fixtures and, in the kitchen, new cabinets, granite counter tops and appliances.  It sits on a corner lot at 6214 West Acoma Drive in Glendale, Ariz.

Asked if he isn't a little disappointed that the high bid is 15 cents, Talbot says, "Well, it's early in the process."

Bidding closes Tuesday at 5 p.m., Arizona time.  Most of the action, he says, will come late.

"We have people signing up to bid from all over the country," Talbot says.

At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, he explains, "Open bidding will end, and 20-second extended bidding will begin.  At that point a 20-second timer clock will start a countdown.  If someone bids during that time, the clock automatically re-sets for another 20 seconds.  This will happen until no one bids during the 20-second period."

The auction is then over, and the last registered bidder will be the winner.

There's a reserve price of $2,750 on the home (meaning that's the minimum for which it can sell).  Talbot expects the winning bid could as little as $5,000.

Because of the reserve, he says, "I was a little afraid nobody would bid."  So, he initiated some incentives.  The person who places the highest number of bids during the reserve period automatically gets $15,000; the person with the second highest number gets $5,000.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Taser Maker Says Device Has Been Law Enforcement 'Game Changer'

Comstock/Jupiterimages(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- The founders of Taser International Inc. say they developed their version of the Taser as a safe form of protection, but since the wide release of their product, the Arizona-based company has become a magnet for dozens of lawsuits and controversy.

"There have been years where our litigation budget has been higher than our research," said founder Rick Smith. "You hear about the cases, but what you don't hear about is all the cases it avoids."

Just this week, a lawsuit that includes Taser International was filed in Albemarle County, Va., and claimed a deputy was responsible for a man's death after shooting him with a Taser during a traffic stop last year.

Roughly every three minutes, someone somewhere in the world gets Tased -- and that's just by law enforcement. It doesn't include the countless numbers of people who shock their friends for kicks and post the videos on YouTube, or even the comedic scenes from the likes of "The Hangover," "South Park" and "Nurse Jackie."

Smith and his brother, Tom Smith, founded Taser International in the early '90s, after two friends were shot to death in a road rage incident and their mother started to worry about her own safety.

"She tried pepper spray, she tried stun guns, ended up buying a Doberman pinscher," Tom Smith said. "We kind of looked at that and said, 'We can put man on the moon, but the way people fundamentally defend themselves is the way we fought the Revolutionary War.'"

The brothers tracked down an ex-NASA scientist, Jack Cover, who invented the first TASER or the "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle," in the 1970s. Then, using parts from Ace Hardware, they modified it for a broader market.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Solar Power Company Plans Giant Tower in Arizona

Courtesy EnviroMission(PHOENIX) -- In the desert of western Arizona, a power company proposes to build the world's tallest chimney -- a 2,600 foot tall tower that would be the centerpiece of a giant non-polluting power plant that makes electricity from the heat of the sun.

The project has been started by an Australian company called EnviroMission, which says it hopes, by the time it is finished with construction in early 2015, to provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 200,000 homes.  The tower would burn no fuel, and nothing quite like it has ever been tried in America before.

In fact, nothing quite like it has been tried anywhere else in the world, aside from a small test project in Spain.  The finished tower would be the second-tallest structure on the planet, just a hundred feet shorter than the Burj Khalifa luxury skyscraper in Dubai.  It would be twice as tall as New York's Empire State Building.

"It would be conceited to say we have the solution," said Chris Davey, the president of EnviroMission's U.S. operations in Phoenix, "but it's a reasonable energy alternative."

When one mentions solar power, most people probably think of so-called photovoltaics -- those big, flat panels that have been used to power spacecraft, but so far have been considered too expensive for large-scale commercial use.  EnviroMission plans something very different.

Its design consists of a giant, round greenhouse-like structure, under which air would become trapped and get very hot -- around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot air naturally tries to rise, so it would rush toward the tall tower in the center.  On the way, it would pass through any of 32 turbines, whose turning blades would run generators and create electricity.

"It's a very favorable operation," said John Drum, a member of the local county board of supervisors.  "It'll bring quite a few jobs to our county, and when it's done there will be 40 to 50 people to run it."

It would also draw attention to this isolated place, which is off state route 95, north of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio