Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jim Lane starts consolidating power in Scottsdale

Among the signs of regime change in Scottsdale (and there have been many of them already)...

...Lane has hired Tim LaSota as his chief of staff. LaSota is the son of former AZ Attorney General Jack LaSota and has spent the last few years with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office as Andrew Thomas' coatholder taxpayer-funded lobbyist special assistant deputy county attorney.

LaSota has a rep as an ideologue (as if working closely with Andrew Thomas doesn't prove that already! :) ) with his association with the far-right Federalist Society.

Anybody want to start a pool on Scottsdale City Attorney Deborah Robberson's separation date? She is definitely viewed as one of outgoing Mayor Mary Manross' allies and is likely gone before too long (spring???). At first blush, it seems that LaSota is in a prime position to assume the office once Robberson is forced out/moves on.

Besides that expected change in a City Charter Officer spot, the City Manager's job is filled on an interim basis by John Little (though he seems to be well-positioned to win the job on a permanent basis...well, as permanent as any of these jobs can be. Three, maybe four years; probably not much more than that.) Also, the City Auditor's and City Treasurer's jobs are open already (like the City Manager's job, these are also currently filled on an interim basis).

Lane could put his imprint on City Staff very quickly if these jobs are filled by "his" people.

BTW - only time will tell if LaSota's move is one of him seeking a promotion (from "special assistant" to "chief of staff" and maybe higher) or one of rats deserting a sinking Thomas ship. Or both. :))

Also, only time will tell is LaSota was hired for his professional qualifications or his partisan connections.

...On the electoral politics side, Lane is looking to change a previous vote (4-3, of course) that directed the City's govermental relations staff ("lobbyists" to us normal folks) to support legislative repeal of a 2006 law that required cities of a certain size to move their municipal elections to the fall. Many people, including me, believe that this change led to an increased turnout of Republicans, giving a close victory to Republican Lane in heavily Republican Scottsdale.

It seems that Scottsdale's Republicans value the benefits that fall elections have for them, even though the municipal races get lost in the clutter of the lengthy partisan ballots. A tendency which led to the next item...

...Also on the electoral politics side, over in the state lege, north Scottsdale/Fountain Hills State Representative John Kavanagh (R-LD8) has introduced HB2033, a bill that would remove undervotes from calculations of the number of votes cast for an office. This is significant because in September's primary election, Lane led Manross when all the votes were counted, but wasn't the declared the winner because there were enough undervotes that Lane didn't gain a majority.

I can't say that I'm opposed to this one - only the number of votes cast for an office *should* be what determines what constitutes a "majority" of votes for that office, but something tells me that Kavanagh's motivation for this one isn't anything as pure as simple idealism.

...One move not seen yet, and based on the policy initiatives proposed thus far, I'll guess that it's not likely to be seen, is support for changing the number of signatures needed on nomination petitions. Because of the move to fall elections, candidates in 2010 and 2012 will need roughly three times as many signatures (5813) to make it on to the Scottsdale ballot as were needed this year (1652). In a municipal election, numbers like that shut out all but the best-funded candidates, thus making it easier for incumbents to retain their seats.

Anyway, look for more moves, both in the areas of personnel and in legislation/policies, as Lane settles into his new role.

Note - The AZ Republic's report on the farewell reception for Manross and outgoing councilmember Betty Drake is here; Lane, returning councilmember Ron McCullagh and new members Lisa Borowsky and Suzanne Klapp will be sworn in this Tuesday, with a reception starting at 4 p.m. and the swearing-in ceremony taking place at 4:30 p.m.



Thane Eichenauer said...

Oh my. Will modern day leftists ever give up using the term "far-right"? I am hardly surprised when the media overuses the term but for a self-respecting blogger to use the term (and never use the term "far-left") is disappointing.

cpmaz said...

Actually, "far right" is a quote from my source for LaSota's affiliation, the Phoenix New Times (probably not too great a source from your point of view, lol).

As far as the tendency of lefties/liberals to use the phrase, well, when the right stops using the term "far left" or worse to describe ACORN or the ACLU...

And as far as my own usage of the term, well, while this blogger tries to maintain certain standards (citing sources, no misquotes, etc.), I have made no attempt to conceal my political leanings. I may be opinionated, maybe even biased, but I'm honest about it (as is most of the AZ blogosphere, lefty or righty).