When Councilman Tony Nelssen succumbed to cancer, he left a vacancy on the Scottsdale City Council.
The City Charter clearly states that the remaining members of the Council shall appoint a replacement, but no procedure for doing so is specified. As such, things can get a little creative on those occasions when an appointment is necessary.
This was seen at last Tuesday's meeting, which took place on the same day as Nelssen's memorial service. There, Mayor Jim Lane tried to use the emotions of the day to guilt the Council into immediately appointing Nelssen's widow, Marg, to fill the vacancy on the Council.
The move failed on a 3 - 3 tie vote. Lane, Bob Littlefield, and Lisa Borowsky were in favor; Suzanne Klapp, Ron McCullagh, and Wayne Ecton were opposed. That's the normal breakdown when controversial issues go before the Council, and before his death, Nelssen was the fourth vote in the Lane clique.
In the linked AZ Republic article, Lane is quoted as calling the votes of McCullagh, Klapp, and Ecton an "affront." Many of the commenters on the article agreed with that, calling McCullagh, Klapp, and Ecton "boorish," "grasping," "wankers," and more.
I know certain readers are going to disagree with me on this, but NO, not even close.
If anyone involved was "boorish" it was Lane for trying to take advantage of the genuine grief that many in the city feel over the loss of Tony Nelssen in a shameless attempt to reload the Council with a lockstep majority in his favor.
If Lane had simply waited a week, he would have appeared to be a compassionate and wise (almost statesman-like) public servant instead of a cynical political operative.
As it is, the appointment of a replacement will happen this week (Tuesday, 4 p.m., City Hall Kiva), and it will take place without the public viewing the proceedings through grief-tinged lenses.
Right now, it looks as if each remaining member of the Council will nominate someone to fill the open seat, and a series of votes will be taken. Sources expect (as do I) that when the listof candidates is winnowed down to two candidates, the Council will reach an impasse (aka - another 3 - 3 split) and the names of the two finalists will be placed in a hat with the seat going to whichever name is drawn from the hat.
Also expected (though not guaranteed): Marg Nelssen will be one of the finalists. She has expressed in interest in being one of the candidates, and after last week's very public moon shot by Lane, he is too wedded to the idea of appointing her for him to move his support to someone else.
Tuesday's meeting should be the most openly contentious one of the year, and should provide *lots* of writing material. :)
See you there...