Guest Editorial

By Mark Lipsky  |  MARCH 4, 2015

Self-interested – Selfish – Self-destructive

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I didn’t attend the candidate forum on February 12. The primary reason I declined the invitation was I felt a forum organized by the candidates themselves – in this case the four councilmen facing recall - would be too prone to bias and self-interest. Adding to my apprehension was that, not only had an agenda been set, one that overflowed with topics embodying their argument against the recall, but questions from citizens were to be limited to the agenda topics only.

I’ve since watched the videotape of the forum. Any lingering regret I may have felt in not participating has melted away entirely. Here’s why.

While the candidates ultimately backed off of their attempt to severely limit questioning, the format was irrationally restrictive; 30 seconds per question and 60 seconds per answer. Such overreach for containment and control was disrespectful to the citizens in attendance and would have made it impossible for the challengers to appropriately address the important issues surrounding the recall.

In the end, however, it was an unlikely player who embodied the stew of bias in which the forum had been conceived – the moderator.

The councilmen facing recall had promised a neutral moderator. In an email to the challengers, the Vice Mayor had written, “I have secured Dr. Adam Symonds to moderate. Dr. Symonds is the Director of Speech and Debate for Arizona State University. Rest assured he and I have never met.”

They’ve still never met.

It turned out Dr. Symonds had also declined the invitation. In his opening statement, the Vice Mayor gave no real explanation for Dr. Symonds’ absence. “Couldn’t make it.” He announced that Judge Clancy Jayne had been enlisted to moderate. Then, in classic foreshadowing, and following in his characteristic penchant for pandering, the Vice Mayor goaded the audience into a round of applause for the judge.

What followed was 85 minutes of truncated questions and answers punctuated by the inevitable, incessant ringing of a ‘time’s up’ alarm. Next, closing statements. Then, the truly surreal; the judge, the moderator, delivered a two-minute-long, full-throated endorsement of the four councilmen facing recall.

“You’ve given me nightmares,” the judge admonished the assembled citizens. He used his own experience in government as an object lesson in how difficult it is to get things done. Then, pointing toward the four recall councilmen and with anguished passion, he said, “There’s so many things that these gentlemen have learned….you just don’t understand how complicated this job is and you learn every day.” He hammered away at the value of experience; the kind of experience the four councilmen facing recall had, in theory, acquired. He finished with, “Now forgive me. That’s way more than I should say.”

Well played councilmen.


The four councilmen facing recall entered into the last election and burst into office with a searing, blinding grudge. Cave Creek was the ultimate victim of the personal vendetta they settled against former town manager Usama Abujbarah. They carried out their vengeance in the most petty, selfish and blundering way imaginable. They drove a wedge through the community, spawned a multi-million dollar lawsuit then capped their mercenary spree by replacing Abujbarah with a personal friend who had no experience in the job. Regardless, he was awarded a salary commensurate with that of a proven manager with many years’ experience. Predictably, he failed with gusto. They gave him a raise. His name was Rodney Glassman.


The councilmen facing recall compare themselves endlessly to ‘the previous administration’ when singing their own praises and damning Abujbarah and all previous councils. Anyone paying attention, though, understands that the previous administration was, in fact, their administration. The town manager was Rodney Glassman and the council, well, they were the council.

They’ve deluded themselves into believing that, eighteen months in, there’s still a previous administration to blame. There is not. The water company is no longer a problem they inherited. It’s a problem that they haven’t solved and have no strategy for solving. Our road problems are no longer inherited, they’re owned by this council and they’ve done nothing to make them safer. In fact, they turned a blind eye as thousands of drivers took their lives in their hands for nearly three months on Spur Cross Road after last summer’s floods. Open space? Again, nothing of substance.

Mike Durkin’s not a bad guy but he joined a gang and the gang leader has him on a short leash. Help me break the chain. Cave Creek deserves better.