Monday, March 05, 2012

Early ballot time - Scottsdale

Lost in the hubbub over Super Tuesday in many states on Tuesday  and the jurisdictional elections in March in many of the state's municipalities is the fact that Scottsdale is holding a special election in March also.

"Special" meaning no candidates, just ballot questions.

There are nine questions, all placed on the ballot by the Scottsdale City Council.

Not having had time to follow local politics closely for the last few months, I didn't have a specific opinion on any of the measures, and was inclined to vote against them on general principle -

I don't trust that the mayor and city council of Scottsdale are working for the best interests of the people of Scottsdale.  They spend wayyyyyyy too much time finding reasons to give deep-pocketed developers exactly what they want, even if that negatively impacts neighborhoods and the families that live in them.

But that's not the right way to approach voting, because...

1.  While the Scottsdale Mayor and City Council is bad, they are nowhere near as bad as the Arizona Legislature (with the lege, vote against anything they send to the ballot.  The next time the majority in the lege votes to put a measure on the ballot that actually benefits all Arizonans will be the very first time for most of them.)

2.  It's the lazy way to do things.

The city-published election information booklet is here.

So, here is my take on the ballot questions.

Question 1 - relating to awarding a franchise to Southwest Gas "to maintain and operate a natural and artificial gas distribution system in the City of Scottsdale".  Not sure yet.  This may be a default "no".

Proposition 430, approving an update to the city's General Plan.  This is the only question where people submitted "for" and "against" arguments.  The supporters of the change could be best described as the people who see Scottsdale as only a profit center and not a home.  The opponents could be best described as the "Change?  I don't know what it is, but I know I don't like it" crowd. 

One side wants the future of Scottsdale surrendered to the short-term interests of developers, which I believe is the reason that they support the new General Plan.

The other side wants Scottsdale to be the Scottsdale of the "good ol' days" when it was a small town swarming with tourists and the hitching rails outnumbered the permanent residents, not a growing mid-sized metropolis/suburb with growing families and the few remaining hitching rails are museum pieces.

Still, while I believe that the time has come for the people of Scottsdale to look at the calendar as it is, not as it was, this proposal isn't the way to move Scottsdale into the 21st century.  I'm voting against it because it will be difficult to repair the damage it will cause, once the new GP is implemented.


The remaining propositions are ostensibly "housekeeping" measures, polishing up outdated language and synching the city's charter to state law.

Proposition 431 - among its provisions, it would allow the city to cease publication of legal notices in newspapers or in fact, anywhere.  This clause is written so broadly that the mayor and city council could order that legal notices be posted on the inside of the door on the outhouse in Jim Lane's back yard (in case you can't tell, that's a metaphor.  I'm pretty sure Lane doesn't have an outhouse on his property.  :) ).  Another clause would take away the city's authority to *bar* development in a flood plain (yes, we have them in AZ), allowing it to only "limit" it.


Proposition 432 - has some decent things in it, purely housekeeping bits, but it includes a clause matching the city charter's open meeting requirements to state law, whatever that may be.  Given that the lege is trying to make government less open and accountable, that's a bad thing.  In addition, there is nothing wrong with the city government being more open than state law requires.  However, this one is mostly harmless, so I'm voting -


Proposition 433 - seems to be purely housekeeping, moving language regarding one city commission into the section of the charter that relates to the rest of the city's boards and commissions.


Proposition 434 - relating to the city's budget process.  Again, the legal notice requirement will be only that which is required by state law and no more.  And the other relevant budget process provisions will be synched up with state law.  I've already stated what I think of what the lege is doing to government openness requirements and that the city should use state law only as a baseline for openness, not a target.


Proposition 435 - allowing the city council and mayor to create an exception to the way the city executes contracts by simply passing an ordinance or resolution.  Currently, that can only be done according to a charter provision or state law.  Since it expands the power of the mayor and council,


Proposition 436 - relating to utility franchise agreements.  Again, changing notification requirements to match state law.  Again,


Proposition 437 - relating to city records.  Again, changing openness requirements to match state law.  Again,


The next example of this type of post should be for the primary election in August...

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