Smith: Prop. 420 isn’t supporting all Scottsdale residents

Proposition 420 on this November’s ballot has far reaching implications demanding every voter’s most careful consideration.

I’ll offer my thoughts, directed to the proposition’s purpose, process and principles of governance.

David Smith (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

Regarding the purpose of Prop. 420

When you read a sign that says “PROTECT OUR PRESERVE” it is a plea on behalf of preserve users… probably fewer than 15 percent of our citizens… who hike, bike, or ride horseback in the preserve today. And, of course, another group who live next to the preserve.

These individuals are soliciting our support to protect and perpetuate their uses of the preserve. They want trails, trailheads and parking lots… but nothing more.

When you read a sign that says, “PROTECT YOUR PRESERVE,” it is a plea to protect the preserve for all citizens. It is soliciting our support to protect and perpetuate everyone’s use of the preserve, however that use may be legally manifested.

I represent all citizens: I cannot support an initiative that makes difficult or impossible the use and enjoyment of the preserve by all citizens and visitors who have taxed themselves for the preserve.

Regarding the process

The proponents of Prop. 420 are bankrolled by $100,000 or more, donated by just one or two anonymous donors who gave to a 501(C)(4) charity created initially to sue the city.

Prop. 420 supporters broadcast and stress their support for transparency and their disdain for politicians who, according to them, are all “influenced by special interests.” In spite of their rhetoric, they have relied on special interest anonymous donors to:

  • Pay $39,094 to hire more than 36 “paid circulators” in order to collect several thousand signatures to insure this proposition made it onto the ballot;
  • Pay for the multitude of PROTECT OUR PRESERVE signs you see along the roads;
  • Pay for the creation and distribution of a cascade of promotional emails; and
  • Pay for expensive TV ads to argue for your support.

The leaders of Protect Our Preserve have hoodwinked Scottsdale citizens, as well as many of their most dedicated supporters.

I worked for 40 years to earn a reputation of honesty, integrity and transparency: I will not compromise that reputation by supporting an anonymously funded initiative. One candidate in this year’s council election knows who the special interest anonymous donors are, because she is a director of the 501(C)(4) charity, but she’s not saying!

Regarding the principles of governance

Our nation, our state and our city are founded on a republican form of government. Our forefathers saw the wisdom of putting the responsibility for governance in the hands of elected representatives who would study the issues, govern and spend tax dollars wisely in the interest of the people.

Prop. 420 would abandon this republican form of government in favor of giving non-elected commissioners the right to spend your tax dollars. This is not a minor change, this is unprecedented!

Furthermore, changes other than those decreed by the unelected commissioners would be decided by popular vote where complicated issues will be decided by reading road signs, paid for by special interest donors.

I ask myself, “Why are one or two donors risking $100,000 to change our form of governance?” I can think of no satisfying answer that would earn my support.

And so…

If you’ve read this far, I hope you will understand why I do not support passage of Prop. 420. Whether Proposition 420 passes or fails, I hope we can move forward in the future to address all the major issues confronting our city, working together with respect and civility.

Editor’s note: Mr. Smith is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council this November.

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