Alley: Gaslighting is the real plague of Scottsdale

Gaslighting means “to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity,” and it’s a myopic disease that’s highly contagious but easy to spot.

Andrea Alley

You’ll recognize it when those who are threatened by the usurping of the status quo start writing opinion pieces berating Scottsdale citizens for speaking out.

Please refer to Larry Heath’s recent opinion piece for a perfect example.

There’s this pesky thing called reality, however, that exposes Mr. Heath’s recent opinion piece. With everything he writes, he reminds us that the dirtiest tactic of all — gaslighting — from the No Prop 420 crowd is still alive and well.

The slogan “Protect Your Preserve” comes directly to mind.

But unlike Mr. Heath, I’m not here to rehash what happened in the last election.

What I will address are his inaccuracies, since he didn’t bother to fact check. Here’s a run down of what actually happened, instead of the alternate reality he wants you to believe.

1. During the March 13 Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Serena simply suggested reviewing and possibly amending the public outreach process, referencing Papago Plaza as an example. That’s when former Commissioner Pasquel spoke up about the project — the same one from which she recused herself due to her marriage to the developer’s lobbyist.

Whoops. Mr. Heath forgot to mention that little detail. There were no pitchfork-wielding madmen in attendance that day.

2. Commissioners are volunteer positions, but they are also appointed by the council. You need a recommendation if you want to sit on a commission. Pasquel was a Milhaven appointee.

3. There’s nothing dodgy about filing an ethics complaint when a commissioner’s behavior and residency literally goes against the letter of the law. Besides speaking with contempt and disdain about the people she served on a case she was restricted from addressing publicly, Pasquel was a member of our Planning Commission as a full-time resident of Phoenix.

4. There were 130 concerned citizens at the first outreach meeting for Papago Plaza back in January — one of whom was Jason Alexander. Most, if not the rest, of the attendees were residents of south Scottsdale. Not that it matters.

5. Mr. Heath is clearly unaware of what unfolded with the Papago project since December. After the council approved the project and mandated additional outreach, the developer and architect pro-actively contacted residents to discuss their concerns above and beyond what the council requested.

I and many of my neighbors worked closely with their team over the past few months to create a true legacy project for the developer and the neighborhood, and it wasn’t a painful process. Well… unless you’re Kelsey Pasquel, I suppose.

6. The way things progressed with Papago Plaza was entirely unique, and nobody expects it to be duplicated. However, the takeaway is that the development process is clearly not the well-oiled machine Mr. Heath claims it is. This is why Commissioner Serena presented the idea to revise the outreach process on March 13.

7. Jason Alexander didn’t need Papago Plaza to make a name for himself — he did that on his own with Prop 420. Conversely, south Scottsdale didn’t need him to make our voices heard.

Yet, we work as a team on the things that matter to our community because collaboration works. He continues to use his platform to keep residents informed and engaged in what is happening in all corners of Scottsdale. This should be celebrated — and is exactly what we want in council candidates.

8. It’s high time to move on from the sign drama. Nobody likes them when they’re visually assaulting our cities and certainly nobody wants to think about them when they’re gone.

But since we must: Nobody knows whose signs those were. They simply didn’t belong to POP PAC or NoDDC, as the owner is clearly identified as another entity. Anything else is conjecture.

9. With potholes in our streets and Scottsdale’s coffers dry, the last thing any of us should be doing is accepting the status quo of Scottsdale governance that got us here in the first place.

There is one thing Mr. Heath has right, however. More people are attending public hearings regarding development projects in the city.

Why is this a problem? I guess community feedback makes the job of a commercial real estate agent like Heath pretty darn tough.

Mr. Heath stands alone in his imaginary Residents vs. Government war; this is why he is the only one sounding the alarm. The same people he calls on to fight with him have already recognized that fighting the people they have the honor to represent — in any capacity — is the least productive way to move our city forward.

Holding our city’s leadership to the law and nothing more shouldn’t be the highest standard we expect of them. Accountable government is the future of Scottsdale — and it certainly won’t stop progress.

Together we will build our beloved Scottsdale into an even better place to call our own — although it’s hard to imagine a better city, isn’t it?

Mr. Heath acts as if he is the only person who wants that — and claims that only an elite few can create it. He will learn that when city leaders, business owners, developers AND residents work together, we get the very best future for ourselves and our families.

Mr. Heath, you are welcome to join us at any time.

Winners think collaboratively, not divisively. Scottsdale residents, your opinions matter and your voices are powerful. Don’t ever let anyone gaslight you into silence.

Editor’s Note: Andrea Alley is a Scottsdale resident, wife, mom, and co-founder of the South Scottsdale Project.

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