BY STEVE LAMAR | DECEMBER 4, 2013
Francia’s abandonment of Cave Creek is no surprise
Many citizens of Cave Creek have begun speaking publicly about the abandonment of Cave Creek by Mayor Vincent Francia. These concerns have been expressed privately for years. They surface now because the mayor’s “lead by following“ modus operandi doesn’t work when the majority of the town council – Spitzer, Durkin, Monachino, and Vice Mayor Trenk – are working full time for themselves rather than in the best interests of the citizens of Cave Creek.
Make no mistake about it, Trenk through his bobble headed majority, has tapped into Francia’s unwillingness to lead in a big way. When staff and former council worked to complete the annexation of state trust land, Francia was front and center taking credit for this major step toward completion of a cornerstone goal of the Cave Creek General Plan. He postured for all the photo ops urging “His” citizens to donate money and spend countless hours in fund raisers for the purchase of the annexed land, promising that the town would complete the purchase as soon as possible. Thousands of dollars still sit in trust unused. Hours of work by dedicated volunteers now forgotten.
Then along came Trenk, with his best pal TC Thortsenson. With them came big out of town money and dirty politics. The citizens who represented the interests of the town on council were ill prepared for the spread of the great plague that had infected politics across the country. They weren’t political hacks with pockets full of money. The slate ran the dirtiest campaign in the history of Cave Creek funded by record sums mostly from out of state. The citizen councilmen and women who had quietly worked to bring the town through the Great Recession with a $7,000,000 surplus were bloodied and battered in a game honest people are ill equipped to play. Councilwoman Shelly Anderson and Councilman Jim Bruce were so disgusted with the regimes’ dirty tactics they withdrew from the general election. The plague of politics took its toll on Cave Creek. As with all plagues, the rats flourish.
Francia, practiced in the art of service to self, didn’t miss a beat. He read the tea leaves and quickly embraced the regime he had publicly condemned for its sleazy untruthful campaign as his new best friends. He proclaimed them to be the best council he had ever worked with. Quite a pithy observation as they had been in office for all of a month.
Repeated responses to public records requests reveal the Francia/Trenk regime has done nothing to secure the purchase of the Great Cave Creek Sonoran Foothills Corridor. Why would they? It may be in the regimes’ interest to scratch a benefactor’s back in the future with a little rezoning.
So Francia, who was the front man taking credit for the annexation, is now happy to tell us nothing needs to be done for 20 years. You see, Francia understands his new friends’ needs, and wants to help. He, more than anyone before him, personally benefits from having the title mayor. It helps him lobby for Jerry Simms, Turf Paradise, and the gambling industry. His primary interest has always been keeping the title mayor. With the title he can help his boss open doors for gambling. Doors that might otherwise be closed because of the troubled history Turf Paradise and his friend, the owner, has had with regulators and the racing commission. Francia does serve as mayor, he serves gambling, his boss, and himself. Not necessarily in that order.
Francia is a smooth operator. For years he has served himself, smiled, and told everyone what he thought they wanted to hear. The town’s work was done by others. Francia kept everyone happy with him while others made the hard decisions that got folks with personal agendas angry. Francia proved you can keep most of the people happy most of the time if you tell most of the people what they want to hear most of the time. This house of cards falls, though without others to do the real work of leading. Francia is now a liability, not just a harmless glad hander content with taking credit for the work of others.
You see Francia gets that Trenk is all about Trenk. Given that Francia is all about Francia, that shouldn’t be a surprise. These two really are birds of a feather and they have indeed flocked together. They ask what can Cave Creek do for them, then they play, and Cave Creek pays.
Francia has an all-in bet down on the regime money and its ruthless willingness to say and do whatever it takes to win. There is a real problem, though; Francia is used to betting with the house for Turf Paradise. Now he thinks he is playing the odds with our town’s future. He may find it is his future at stake, and he should have bet on the town and its citizens.
For the Love of Cave Creek, get connected, stay connected. This is our Town. We need to protect it.