Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mayor Jim Lane already ceding the governance of Scottsdale to out-of-town lobbyists

You know, I freely admit that I was not happy with Mary Manross' performance as Mayor of Scottsdale. It's a South Scottsdale (older neighborhoods, families building lives, Scottsdale as "home") vs. North Scottsdale (overpriced and undervalued subdivisions, yuppies building McMansions, Scottsdale as "vacation home") thing.

Manross may not have had much use for South Scottsdale and its neighborhood activists (and those activists returned the feeling), but I suspected even last year that as bad as she was, she was better than Jim Lane, her challenger and the eventual victor in last year's mayoral election.

Hindsight being 20/20, damn if I wasn't spot on with that opinion.

The latest example of this is Lane's formation of a Charter Review Task Force. It was filled out on June 2nd, with Lane's hand-picked choice, Steven Twist, selected to serve as chair.

The Charter Review Task Force's first meeting took place on Monday, August 31 (no minutes available yet, but the marked agenda is here.)

The fourth item on the agenda/minutes for that meeting best highlights Lane's lack of respect for the idea of Scottsdale's residents actually having a say in the governance of Scottsdale.

It involved inviting guests to speak on possible changes to Scottsdale's charter.

One of those guests was Dr. James Svara, an ASU professor. He's an acknowledged expert on municipal governance, so I'll cut Lane some slack there. He may or may not be a Scottsdale resident (I *think* he lives in Phoenix, but I'm really not sure), but he has a very strong background in the area of interest.

The other two "invited" guests were a little more eye-opening, and bewildering.

One was the ORANGE Coalition. It's a "private property rights" organization that lists a Scottsdale address and professes to be a Scottsdale advocacy group (at least they did when I ran into one of their petition circulators outside the Scottsdale library earlier this summer).

There's only a couple of problems with that "Scottsdale group" thing -

1. Their address is listed as 4400 N. Scottsdale Rd #9-473. What they don't say is that is a mail drop - Suite 9 at that address is the home of UPS Store #1692. In and of itself, that isn't damning; there could be plenty of good reasons to use a mail drop instead of a local office. However...

2. While the chair and treasurer have some ties to Scottsdale, three of the directors do not, other than being able to find Scottsdale on a map. Actually, given the info to follow, the fact that the main page of their website focuses on opposing the Clean Water Act, and features a video clip of Senator James "climate change is a hoax" Inhofe, it looks an awful lot like an astroturf group.

Mark Killian is a former Speaker of the AZ House and Director of the AZ Department of Revenue. He's from Mesa. Republican anti-government ideologue.

Laura Knaperek is a former State Representative. She's from Tempe. Republican anti-government ideologue.

Dan Kelleher is a former executive of American Water, the parent company of Arizona American Water. The same Arizona American Water that pumped contaminated drinking water to its customers in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. At least two times that are publicly known.

The ORANGE Coalition's proposed amendments to Scottsdale's charter are here. Not surprisingly, their "proposal" includes a clause that would prevent the City of Scottsdale from taking over the Scottsdale part of Arizona American Water's system.

The other invited guest was the Goldwater Institute, a Phoenix-based anti-government and anti-tax lobbying group. They've never met a government service or function that they didn't want to privatize to the benefit of one of their corporate contributors. Not surprisingly2, they advocated shrinking the size of Scottsdale's city government by privatizing everything, including police services (see page 21, paragraphs D and E, of the linked .pdf, section titled "Performance Based Policing").

Good God.

I am not somebody who believes in recalling an elected official just because he/she is doing things that some of us disagree with (hey, it's politics - disagreement happens.) That's what elections are for.

However, refusing to do the job that an official was elected to perform *is* grounds for removal from office, and Lane has made it clear that he is more interested in using the Mayor's office to push an ideological agenda than in looking out for the interests of Scottsdale and its residents.

The sad part is that Lane *is* intelligent, and should be able to take a look at the cluster**** that the ideologues in the lege have perpetrated on the state budget and learn the lesson.

Ideology can and must take a back seat to practical considerations in retail level politics, and municipal government is the most retail level of government. It's about fixing potholes and streetlights, not the "big" issues of the day. (OK, so that is a New England reference, not a Scottsdale one. It still works. :) )

There's a reason that the old truism, popularized (but not created) by the late Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O'Neill, was "All Politics is Local," not "All Politics is Partisan."

Mayors are supposed to know that, even before they enter office.

1 comment:

Thane Eichenauer said...

Jim Lane is a thrall of big private police? Could Scottsdale end up worse than Broward county?