Washington: Welcome to the Scottsdale political Twilight Zone

As we once again begin Scottsdale’s political silly season, we would do well to remind ourselves that good governance doesn’t come from selecting leaders based on the hats they wear — white hats, black hats, red hats — but from making informed choices based on candidate track records.

John Washington

John Washington

Unfortunately, that is rarely the modus operandi in elections in this city, state, and country.

A pitifully small percentage of Scottsdalians can name their mayor, Jim Lane, and fewer still know the council members or even where they meet. Heaven forbid the taxpayers attend a council meeting! As Plato said, “The price good men pay for inattention to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Which brings us to a sad state of affairs in Scottsdale.

The city council’s recent vote to continue pouring money into the Desert Discovery Center concept — which has absolutely no popular support — is a prime example of bad government. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent to “study” the concept, and the council just approved another $1.6 million for more of the same nothing.

Taken in isolation, this action and this project are bad enough. But the very same mayor and council implored us less than three months ago that our city infrastructure is crumbling; and they begged us to raise our own taxes so they could borrow $100 million for direly-needed repairs.

Mind you, the mayor has held a city office for more than a decade, and the council members have either been there with him or skulking around close by. During that time they approved budget deficits every year, they shorted infrastructure maintenance funding, and ran up over a billion dollars’ worth of debt — the highest per-capita debt of any major city in the Valley.

Simultaneously, Mayor Lane and the 100 percent so-called Republican city council have approved tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies for the PGA, Phil Mickelson, the NFL … and we can’t forget the subsidies for rugby and polo matches promoted by Jason Rose, who also happens to be Jim Lane’s campaign PR manager.

If we had to raise our own taxes to borrow $12 million to fix potholes, where did the $1.6 million for the DDC come from? Even Mayor Lane has abandoned the Linda Milhaven fiction that bed tax money isn’t taxpayer money. That $1.6 million is your money.

Not only does the DDC not have popular support, it doesn’t seem to have any support except from the developers, construction companies, and trough-feeders who hope to profit from it. It also has no business plan, because there is no business case that can be made for it. It has no hope of being anything other than a giant, money-sucking boondoggle.

But what the DDC does have is a lesson for the voters: If you only pay attention long enough to look at the hats, you don’t get democracy. What you get is kleptocracy — government that exists to steal from you, the taxpayers.

Editor’s note: Mr. Washington is local community advocate and editor of the Scottsdale Trails website

Mr. Washington is a local community advocate and editor of Scottsdaletrails.com

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