BY STEVE LAMAR | DECEMBER 18, 2013
Cave Creek or Pottersville?
Most years watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with a crackling fire is a giant step toward getting in the spirit of the holiday season.
This classic depicts the struggle of good versus evil, selflessness versus selfishness, friendship and loyalty versus greed and power set in a small World War II town in America.
Icons abound; Donna Reid youthful and absolutely stunning; Jimmie Stewart in his prime. A magnificent performance by the great Lionel Barrymore as the cold-hearted, power driven, Henry F. Potter.
This masterpiece ages like a fine wine. It is a reminder of a time when things were simpler; it is a measuring point to judge how things have changed. It speaks of a generation of Americans who valued the things money couldn’t buy and believed there was a calling for each of us to stand up for what was right; serve not just our selves, but our neighbors, friends, and our community.
Even in Bedford Falls, with George Bailey and the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan to help the honest hard working citizens create a wholesome community where they didn’t have to crawl to big money influences, there lurked the constant threat from Potter.
In years past the romance of Mary and George, George’s sacrifice for his brother, his family business, and for Bedford Falls was so sweet and utterly down home American that the menace of Potter, even when he tries to buy George off with the big salary job, and then pockets the money lost by Uncle Billy, didn’t feel like a real threat. This is Donna Reid, and Jimmy Stewart dancing the jitter bug, and singing about lassoing the moon. Potter can’t hurt them.
This year the peril of Bedford Falls and the struggles of George Bailey seemed a lot closer to home, and sadly real.
In years past I would take this glimpse into the heart and spirit of late 40s and early 50s America and feel good about Cave Creek. Stopping in at the Indian Village for some tamales, going to the Christmas Pageant, seeing the lights go up in Frontier Town, smiling at the Santa Hat on the plastic Horse at the Black Mountain Feed Store, and admiring the lights on the cactus at the Town Dump set the stage, but the real comfort came with knowing the folks I knew in Cave Creek disagreed about a lot of things, but worked together to keep the town feeling a lot like Bedford Falls.
Cave Creek has always had a Potter or two, as George Bailey would observe, “a scurvy little spider spinning his web.” But this holiday we have a town embroiled in law suits, a temporary town manager who doesn’t live here spending our money like a drunken sailor, a Mayor Francia co-opted by a regime of politicos who spent record amounts of money getting elected by spreading lies about honest citizens who had served the town faithfully. We have Vice Mayor Trenk who lives here just enough to keep his name on the ballot; who hand picked his unemployed friend to be town manager, gave him our credit card, and sent him out to network for a permanent job on us.
We have witnessed the public humiliation and unconstitutional treatment of our long time town manager. We have suffered council resolutions that range from silly to defiantly unconstitutional demanding all citizens of Cave Creek refrain from any public criticism of the controlling regime.
Last Monday night we experienced long time citizens of Cave Creek being shouted down at a council meeting by Mayor Francia, with Vice Mayor Trenk whispering directions in his ear, and their puppet attorney shrieking objections.
They denied citizens of this town the right to ask town manager candidates about what had been discussed behind closed doors; about their relationships with notorious developers or their relationship with the law firm that employs Vice Mayor Trenk. This arrogant, unconstitutional, undemocratic conduct was aimed at concealing operations of our town government from us.
Even ruthless Potter made George an offer he thought he couldn’t refuse to get his way. In Cave Creek you get strong-armed to silence if you ask probing questions – smiled at and lied to if you don’t.
George Bailey up on that bridge about to jump on a snowy night near Christmas in Bedford Falls faced the same kind of threat we face in Cave Creek today.
Clarence, the angel sent to save George, showed him the Pottersville that Bedford Falls would be without him there to fight for what was right. A place filled with bars, and pawn shops, and strangers where devotion to duty and honesty are exploited. A place where money, power, and lies rule.
George realized he wanted to live, and fight for what was right, even if Potter ruined him.
George and Bedford Falls, in the end, were spared by the honest, hard working citizens of a little town who, when they learned they had been lied to and manipulated by Potter, all pitched in and saved the day.
A change in state law lengthened the normal two year term for Cave Creek elections to nearly four years for this term. There will be a recall election that shortens this term back to normal. We can ban together and save Cave Creek with our votes. Just like George, his angel Clarence, and the honest citizens saved Bedford Falls.
For the Love of Cave Creek, get connected, stay connected, this is our town; we must protect it.