Norton: the truth of Scottsdale politics is stranger than fiction

Over the last three years a half dozen surveys of Scottsdale voters were conducted. The city ran one.

Mike Norton

Opponents ran others. At the request of a city councilmember and a commissioner, another survey was run. Each survey produced the same results. From 70-90 percent of voters oppose the Desert Discovery Center being built on the Preserve in any form.

More overwhelming, over 90 percent of everyone surveyed demanded the right for the public to vote to decide the future of our Preserve.

Why such nearly unanimous support for voter rights?

Quite simply, there is something for everyone to detest about the DDC/EDGE and the attempt to bulldoze the Preserve without public vote. Which of these categories applies to each of you? You’ll find your reason to support prop 420 and to oppose the DDC:

I’m a fiscal conservative: if we believe in limited government spending and low taxes, we oppose the horrendous waste to build the DDC and perpetual budget waste for decades to operate it. A burden most harshly impacting lower-income and fixed-income families since it is sales tax based.

For low income/fixed income fiscal conservatives, strike three against the DDC.

I support strict adherence to our current Charter: like our constitution, I believe in our Charter. Prop. 420 was born from the loophole abuse of our already existing Charter provisions that govern the Preserve. If our city council had honored and supported Article 8 of our existing Charter we would not be forced to pass prop. 420 to tighten any loopholes.

If City Attorney Bruce Washburn had upheld his oath of office, he would have enforced our Charter to its greatest and fullest extent instead of distorting it and pretending the Charter didn’t exist.

I am a preservationist: give the DDC Advocates an inch and they will take 33,000 acres. The plans for massive expansion of commercial activities from the Gateway Trailhead to Tom’s Thumb and in between are all documented. We didn’t make any of those crazy reports up.

We found them in city records where the DDC advocates hoped we would never look. Only when their plot was disclosed did the DDC Advocates scale back their outlandish proposal. If they build the DDC, nothing will stop them from turning it in to the resort annex and event center it has always been in their minds.

I stand for voter rights: five times we were asked to fund or expand the preserve and we said “yes.” Not once in any of the ballot pamphlets was the DDC ever mentioned.

When developers want to build resort annexes on the Preserve we are now locked out of the ballot booth.

We’ve even prohibited from asking questions during presentations. Regardless of the issue, when voters are prohibited from and/or threatened for attempting to exert our rights as voters, there is something deeply wrong with the system.

I oppose cronyism and collusion in our local government: DDC Advocates worked under the table with city staff and two City Council members for two years helping rig the RFP so only DDCSI could possibly qualify. Collusion is a crime. Bid rigging in any project of any kind should be stamped out.

I believe in protecting property rights: those who chose to move near the Gateway Trailhead or any other boundary of the Preserve did so for a reason. In many cases we believed we would be protected from more high density housing or commercial projects.

Building an event center on the edge of our neighborhoods and injecting nightlife entertainment 40-60 or more times a year will damage our community and our home values. This is not an 85255 issue nor a DC Ranch issue.

The Preserve borders well over half the land of Scottsdale. From Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard north to carefree, there are only 3-4 miles of buildable land to the west of the enormous preserve. Turning developers loose on the Preserve will directly impact half the land mass of Scottsdale.

Nimby? No. Nioby? Yes. It’s in all of our backyards.

Misuse of preserve taxes: we taxed ourselves to buy land. There is more land to buy. But Milhaven and Korte have stopped the purchasing process. They did so for two related purposes. First, it allows developers to buy the same land and cash in on preserve-front developments.

Second, they stopped the purchases of land to help horde cash for the DDC. Nearly 10 percent of all Preserve funds we taxed ourselves to create will be diverted to a DDC debacle. I’m not making this up.

Their public statements can be found throughout the news media in 2013-14. Back then those who were paying attention started to worry. They were wise to be afraid.  They were right that over $125,000,000 of Preserve funds were held in the city’s coffers when they should have been used to buy more preserve land.

So where do we stand today?

Opponents of Prop. 420 have rolled out some new tactics. Now they would like us to believe that they are Charter loving, good governance loving, protectors of the Preserve. No. They’re not. But those wild claims are all they have left.

So they’re going with it no matter how silly they sound to anyone who knows better. They are largely developers, including Los Angeles-based, high-density developers.

A final thought on trusting our local government.

As Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield once warned us, when you deceive voters and deny them their rights, you break the bonds of trust upon which all city governments rely and depend. In Scottsdale the bonds of trust were destroyed two years ago and trampled ever since.

Passing Prop. 420 sends a loud message to those who trample our Charter and our Preserve. Passing Prop. 420 also helps begin the process of healing.

Vote “yes” on Prop 420.

Editor’s note: Mr. Norton is a longtime Scottsdale resident and community advocate

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment