Last week, I met with a supporter who suggested I run on a single platform of “listening to citizens and respecting their visions.” Visions are an expression of our hopes of the future, she explained; sometimes big and bold…sometimes, very small and personal. She gave me an example from her perspective… she’s retired and, like many in her generation, enjoys a good game of bridge at the senior center. Early this year, the fees for duplicate bridge were increased from $5 to $6 per person.
She has trouble understanding why her small and personal vision of a good time is less important than Council’s big, bold vision of having the state’s largest bar district…a vision that requires a subsidy of more than a million dollars from the public safety budget.
My meeting with this supporter was just a day before I attended a Council meeting and her advice – listen to citizens and respect their visions – was still ringing in my ears.
The Council meeting was fairly routine…pledge of allegiance, prayer, then approval of a dozen Class 6 (Bar) Liquor License renewals. But there were a few non-routine discussions that are worth sharing; not for what was said, as much as for what was not.
Council debated a request from one Class 6 Liquor License holder who wanted to modify his Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to expand his premises and extend his hours of operation. Curiously, as Council debated whether to grant these valuable entitlements, the questions never asked were, “What does this do for the Scottsdale citizen?” or “Is this consistent with the vision of the citizens?” If Council doesn’t take charge of granting new CUPs or challenging modifications to CUPs or ever revoking a CUP, then why do we call them conditional?
Another citizen used a three-minute card to plead with Council not to approve Fourth of July fireworks at WestWorld. He lives in McDowell Mountain Ranch and is concerned that his and his neighbors’ homes might be lost to fire in this very dry summer. He reminded Council, Governor Brewer signed Senate Bill 1158 last month setting new restrictions on fireworks because of the wildfire threat in Arizona.
Ironically, later on the Council agenda was a new set of proposed ordinances from our City’s own fire department restricting – you guessed it! – fireworks! The fire department is trying to protect our $632 million investment in the 30,200 acre Preserve by prohibiting all fireworks one mile from its boundaries (WestWorld, by the way, lies just over a mile from the Preserve boundary at Bell and Thompson Peak.) The fire department report warned “…the threat [of a wildland fire]…increases dramatically during the summer months and more specifically…around the 4th of July.”
After the citizen speaker finished sharing his concerns about fire hazards, Council took just 25 seconds to approve the fireworks request and the contradictory request from the fire department…by a vote of 7/0.
Councilmembers sometimes forget they are elected to represent the people…citizens who have no one else to listen to their voice, argue on their behalf or respect their vision. When Council grants the special request of an applicant, they would do well to consider the financial windfall as a withdrawal from the City’s storehouse of value…a value that belongs to the collective citizenry. I have a record, as your City Treasurer, of listening to and respecting the voice of citizens and working to protect our financial interests. I ask for your support in the upcoming Council election.