Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Short Attention Span Musing

Edit later on 10/7 with a correction to a factual error...

Just a few questions that I've been wondering about...

...Wouldn't it be ironic if AZ Senator Jon Kyl's anti-maternity care diatribe during a Senate hearing on health care reform is what pushes Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe off the fence and onto the side of health care reform?

- In a related note, at 1 p.m, State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and a group of Arizona mothers and medical personnel will rally at Kyl's office (2200 E. Camelback in Phoenix) to protest Kyl's contempt for them and all expectant mothers (OK, so that's a bit of an overstatement, but he served this one up like a BP fastball to Albert Pujols).

...What's going on in the Scottsdale City Hall? There is, as usual, a 4 - 3 divide on the Council regarding most significant issue (Mayor Lane and Council members Borowsky, Littlefield, and Nelssen on one side and Council members Ecton, Klapp, and McCullagh on the other).

That divide is actually pretty much par for the course with the Scottsdale City Council. What is interesting is the way that it has manifested itself.

For instance, I've noticed something while attending the meetings of the Charter Review Task Force - the "three," Ecton, Klapp, and McCullagh have been at each one, observing intently and taking notes. After talking with other City Hall-watchers, I found out that they've also been regulars at the meetings of the Budget Review Commission.

Considering that the work being performed by the folks on the Task Force and the Commission is vital to both the short-term and long-term interests of Scottsdale, the fact that Council members are paying close attention is laudable.

So why aren't the "four" - Lane, Borowsky, Littlefield, and Nelssen - there too?

Disclaimer: I *did* see Borowsky at one meeting of the Charter Review Task Force, but she entered the Kiva (City Hall meeting area) from the back of the building, watched the proceedings for a moment, and left. She was just passing through, not watching and learning.

Are the "three" more dedicated to their jobs? Or are they just not receiving the same breadth and depth of info from Council staff , which is overseen by Tim Lasota, Lane's chief of staff ?

Edit to add a correction: I contacted Pat Dodds, Scottsdale's Public Affairs Officer, for info about the structure of the Mayor and Council's staff.

It turns out that Council staff members do not directly report to Tim Lasota. It used to be that the staffers for the Mayor and Council reported to the City Manager's staff reported to the City Manager. That was changed earlier this year so that they now report to the City Clerk. While it seems likely that the Mayor's own staffers (an admin and an assistant) are directed by Lasota in practical terms, they and the Council staff do not report to him officially.

Of course, the change in the org chart reporting lines (from City Manager to City Clerk) only serve to highlight the dysfunctionality that currently permeates Scottsdale's City Hall. (see the "jihad" comment below)

Thanks to Mr. Dodd for his quick response with the correct information.

Also. apologies to Mr. Lasota if he was offended by the comment that he was in charge of Council staff. I don't expect that he was offended, but since the factual error was mine, an apology is merited.

End edit...

Disclaimer2: I have never voted for any of the "three", but am beginning to wonder if maybe I should have.

...I am beginning to wonder if the current budget stalemate/meltdown at the Capitol, with all of the very public internecine Republican angst associated with it, was all part of a larger plan to force a smaller, anti-Arizonan, pro-corporation model of government onto Arizona, without bothering with a change to AZ's Constitution?

Let's see some of the signs that have recently been in the news -

The Governor and the Legislature crippling the Arizona Corporation Commission, the fourth branch of government in created in the Arizona Constitution (Article 15), with more cuts to the rest of the government coming due to their continued inaction regarding the budget crisis;

The Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District micromanaging the District toward mediocrity (and proudly saying that is their job);

The jihad that the Republican mayor and council in Scottsdale is conducting against professional staff.

This all may not be part of a specific plan for a quiet de facto coup d'etat, but it highlights what happens when a major political party allows a petty and extreme political ideology to triumph over professionalism and a committment to the community.

Stay tuned...

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