Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Scottsdale City Council extends non-discrimination protections

...for city employees.

You know, it's nice when some of my predictions actually come true...

First, the box score -

At Tuesday's meeting of the Scottsdale City Council, the Council passed an ordinance that prohibits "discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in City of Scottsdale employment activities."

As predicted in last night's post, the proposal to update the City's employment guidelines passed by a comfortable margin (OK, it was just 4 - 3, but many folks in the audience thought it might have gone 5 - 2; nobody thought it was going to fail) and delayed consideration of similar non-discrimination ordinances that would apply to organizations that the City does business with and to businesses and organizations operating within the City.

Note: the vote broke down with Manross, Ecton, Drake, and Littlefield in favor, and Lane, McCullagh, and Nelssen opposed.

AZ Rep coverage here.

KPHO coverage here; there is a video of their news report on that page, too.

Now for the color commentary -

It was obvious early on that this was going to be a colorful meeting - the meeting kiva was 3/4 full 45 minutes before the meeting even started; by the time the meeting started a little after 5 p.m., it was standing room only at City Hall, with the overflow pouring out into the building foyer.

Also obvious early on was that while the assembled crowd was overwhelmingly is support of the ordinance, the Council was more evenly divided.

Once the Council took up consideration of the ordinance, Councilman Tony Nelssen's first question/opinion was to wonder if the proposal "could be fixing a problem that doesn't exist?"

That sentiment would be repeated by opponents of the measure throughout the meeting.

There were 18 public speakers on the issue; 11 in favor, 7 opposed.

The highlights included a passionate speech from Annie Loyd, independent candidate for Congress in CD3.

Note: She's openly lesbian, but a quick perusal of her campaign website shows that she is *far* from a one-issue candidate. I don't think she has a snowball's chance of winning in CD3, but she's a serious candidate and both Democratic challenger Bob Lord and Republican incumbent John Shadegg should treat her candidacy as a serious one.

The lowlights included a speech from Peter Gentala, general counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy, the far-right wing advocacy group once headed by former candidate for governor Len Munsil.

He recited a litany of right-wing talking points in his speech, including that the measure was "promoting an agenda," that transgender people have nothing more than a medical "disorder," and that the price of elective surgery would make the policy cost prohibitive.

Oh, and like pretty much every opponent of the measure, he was worried about public restrooms.

Ummm, one comment here - the Republicans aren't in any position to use the specter of 'people behaving badly in public restrooms' to whip up blind fear of "them," whoever the "them" of the day is.

...Just sayin'... :)

Anyway, a subsequent speaker pointed out the "disingenuousness" of the restroom argument.

That's a term that is far more tactful than the one I would have chosen (think compound word, starting with "bull" :) ).

The statements of the members of the Council often reflected or reinforced what had been said during public testimony.

By the end, it was obvious that Mayor Manross and Councilors Drake, Ecton, and Littlefield (something of a surprise there) supported the measure; Councilors Lane, McCullagh, and Nelssen opposed it.

Consideration of the other measures, extending the non-discrimination language to the City's business partners (vendors, contractors, etc.) and to businesses and organizations operating within the city, were postponed indefinitely dues to concerns about the impact on those businesses and organizations. The Scottsdale Charros were an organization that was mentioned by name.

Other observations -

...That last wasn't a surprise - the campaign season has started, and no one, not even supporters of the measure, wants to tick off the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce. While they no longer officially run Scottsdale, the Chamber still wields influence in the city that is far out of proportion to its actual number of members.

...Even people who never before paid attention to Scottsdale politics could tell which folks were running for office next year - Mayor Manross openly deferred to the Chamber of Commerce, Councilman (and probable candidate for mayor) Jim Lane gave a 10-minute speech that used a lot of words to say very little other than that he thought that the Council shouldn't do anything without getting input from Scottsdale citizens and every possible interest group. Joel Bramoweth, a declared candidate for the City Council, gave a rambling speech that expressed support for the HR policy change while also deferring to the business community on the other aspects of the issue.

...These folks (the Mayor, Council, and candidates *really* have to learn the meaning of the word "pithy." After a couple of rounds of Council comment, the debate became an exercise in "everything has been said, but I haven't said it."

...I signed my first nominating petition of the season last night. Joel Bramoweth was outside collecting sigs before the meeting. I haven't always agreed with his positions, and have criticized him in the past for giving rambling speeches in the Council chamber, but every time that I attend a meeting of the city council or a city board or commission, he's there, listening and learning.

OK, and sometimes speechifying, too. :)

I haven't seen any of the other candidates at 'grunt work' kind of events like meetings of the Planning or Transportation commissions.

Anyway, I may or may not vote for him next year, but in my opinion, he's earned a spot on the ballot.

...Last night's crowd, while very passionate in their support of the non-discrimination measure, was also very well-behaved (one early round of applause, one round of hissing, both resulting in an admonishment by Mayor Manross.)

Expect next week's crowd for the consideration of the City's Master Transportation Plan to be just as passionate but far less civil.


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