BY TOM MASON | DECEMBER 4, 2013
Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the turkeys on the Scottsdale city council are still gobbling away. Council turkeys Klapp, Korte, Millhaven and Robbins are blaming councilmen Littlefield and Phillips for confusing the voters in Scottsdale’s failed bond election. That’s pretty amazing since the pro-bond tax folks outspent the opposition 80 to 1. If you were wondering how the anti-tax folks were able to get their message out more effectively, with practically no money, turns out it wasn’t hard at all.
Usually, the campaign that spends the most money wins. But something went terribly wrong for the proponents of higher taxes. Voters didn’t buy into the liberal panic-talk clichés like “Preserving our Future” and “Quality of Life.” However, what they did understand was the anti-bond term “Bait & Switch.” Let that be a warning to campaign consultants everywhere: Meaningless clichés aren’t going to cut the mustard anymore. Perhaps the newly informed public has finally awakened to the consultant’s misleading distortions.
The light bulb became even brighter for the citizens who attended Scottsdale’s city council meeting when Councilmen Littlefield and Phillips requested the council discuss singling out the projects (that failed in the election) they felt in need of urgent attention. Evidently, the two assumed the other councilmembers would want to discuss funding to meet the city’s pressing needs. Councilmember Linda Milhaven nearly blew a gasket at the mere suggestion of taking money from another fund to pay for “critical” infrastructure needs. Her shameless counterparts on the council spared her from a total meltdown by opposing Councilman Littlefield’s motion. Evidently, the projects deemed critical only a few days earlier are no longer a necessity.
Assumedly, Millheaven (who seems to be the ring leader or at least the most vocal) and Councilman Robbins think the people haven’t caught onto their scare tactics. Come next fall, (election 2014) you can bet Milhaven and Robbins are counting on voters having a short memory.
Speaking of ousting council members, how about the board of directors at the Scottsdale Association of Realtors (SAAR)? Their political guru, former (fired) city manager John Little, will be out of the Realtor building at the end of December. SAAR’s membership should burst out in a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne.” Little’s old buddy, ex-councilman Wayne Ecton, who assisted SAAR on their Quality of Life PAC, is retaining his Preserving Scottsdale’s Future PAC. Since the two have caused untold embarrassment for the Realtors, maybe Little could persuade Ecton to fund a public relations campaign for SAAR.
The board of directors of SAAR is by no means off the hook for their failed political campaign that brought in a whopping $100,000 in contributions from the National Association of Realtors and SAAR’s Issues and Mobilization Fund for their Quality of Life PAC.
SAAR was ultimately fined a measly $12,000 for failing to report campaign contributions in a timely manner. The fine could and should have been $258,000. Unfortunately, the decision from Scottsdale’s city attorney to drastically reduce the fine if SAAR coughed up quick cash for a lower fine could lead to future campaigns ignoring campaign financial reporting laws and simply figuring in the cost of the fine as an added campaign expense.
The coming year should bring lively discussions on the future of Scottsdale. Councilman Bob Littlefield is term limited out of office, and the failed John Little has filed an exploratory committee to run for Littlefield’s vacated seat. Perhaps this year there will be a chink in the armor of the good-old-boys’ network (i.e., political hacks) that calls the shots in Scottsdale. It would be refreshing to have new people step forward who would (at least temporarily) quell the establishment’s never-ending quest of increasing taxes on the citizens. Like every city, Scottsdale needs elected officials who know how to operate within a budget. It’s time to say good riddance to failed politicians and wannabe power brokers who believe they know best how to spend YOUR money!
Tom Mason GRI is the past President (2004) of SAAR (Scottsdale Association of Realtors)