Guest Editorial


The politics of hallucination

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mark lipskyIn late 2007, I made the difficult decision to leave Cave Creek and was heartbroken. I’d been presented with an opportunity to follow a dream while at the same time helping a friend in need and so, with a lump in my throat, I packed up and headed east to New York City.

Having spent a good portion of my life there I slipped back into the frantic rhythms of Manhattan fairly easily and Cave Creek seemed a million miles away. After a year or two, though, I began to hunger for the sights, sounds and tastes of the Creek as well as the remarkable community I’d left behind. I turned to Sonoran News online for occasional bulletins from ‘back home.’ The opinions and editorials were troubling to me as they’d always been, but its standing as a fine local paper delivering small town news and 100 percent accurate reporting of council meetings remained as solid as ever.

Nothing in particular grabbed me by the throat until the firing of the town manager. Even from 2,500 miles away, the stench of such an irrational and irresponsible act was overpowering. It felt as if a close friend had just been diagnosed with a life threatening disease. That friend wasn’t Usama Abujbarah, but the town of Cave Creek itself.

Right or wrong for the town, love him or hate him, the firing of Usama Abujbarah was handled with such reckless disregard for propriety, for the psyche and wellbeing of the town and for fiscal stability, that eighteen months later, the destructive shockwaves continue unabated. It was a stunning act of selfishness and immaturity.

Then the circus came to town.

In a clumsy and embarrassing bid to distract attention from the mounting cost – both emotional and financial – that their spontaneous failure in leadership had ignited, the new council members parked a buffalo outside town hall and dragged Cave Creek’s dignity through the slop. “We’re a town and you’re not. We’re western and you’re not.” A show of asinine bravado that landed on the front page of the New York Times.

What wasn’t on the front page of the New York Times? Spur Cross. Our thriving arts community. Our distinctive trail system. Our dynamic mountain and road-biking communities. Our life-affirming sunsets. Our spectacular wildlife. Instead, the forlorn tone of the article would have the reader believe Cave Creek’s best days are well behind us.

Immediately on the heels of that enormous misfire came a humiliation that virtually every resident of Cave Creek must endure 365 days a year: the silver horses; the town’s shiny metal sentries whose ultra-highluster is equaled only by the glittering preening of the new council members who obsessively congratulate themselves for jobs well done. The horses have a place in the world but it’s a world far from Cave Creek where Renaissance fairs meet Downton Abbey on the polo field. That the present council considers the selection and permanent exhibition of these sculptures an accomplishment on any level is stark evidence of their acute detachment from the heart and soul of our town.

There’s a quote attributed to Thomas Edison that reads, “Vision without action is hallucination.” In the case of the present council, hallucination abounds. They claim to support local business yet they recently threatened to cut off water delivery to Rancho Mañana thus threatening property values, the water table, the town’s finances and more, all while inviting a massive law suit.

They claim transparency yet their process keeps citizens off-balance, frustrated and unengaged.

They claim a focus on safety yet roads and walkways can be left unmaintained and in disrepair for months on end. The very dangerous lane closing on Spur Cross Road that lasted nearly three months is only one example. Notable that the same storm damage to Schoolhouse Road – the main artery to the homes of many on council – was repaired in the blink of an eye.

With the inept dismissal of the former town manager, the four council members facing recall set the stage for intense disharmony and disenchantment along with enduring disservice to a community that deserves and yearns for far more from its town leaders. If I could run against all four, I would. I’m running against Mike Durkin and I humbly ask for your support in the coming election.

My deep affection and respect for this town is on display in a film I made entitled “That Cave Creek Movie” available to stream on YouTube.

Mark Lipsky is the Recall Town Council Election Candidate against Mike Durkin