We can all breath a sigh of relief. Election season 2014 has passed. Yes, election season. It’s that special time of year when the uninformed ( voters ) collide with the well financed or no money VS dark money. For all you animal lovers out there, just think of it as a rumble between sheep and vultures .I have always encouraged people to participate in the process by voting . Don’t vote – don’t complain was my favorite refrain. I must admit that this election season I was forced to consider the disturbing possibility that my vote might be insignificant, that it might not make a difference especially in a political landscape awash in dark money. Yup, the big boys ( vultures ) outdid themselves this season. They mailed out dark money financed propaganda faster than Scottsdale city officials approved apartment communities and bars. Of course, some of the folks responsible for all those dark money mailings are also supporters of multi family developments and bars. What were – the odds?
In previous election seasons there seemed to be more candidates who gave you a reason to vote. Some actually seemed to care about residents opinions and the future of the city far more than their own political aspirations and agendas. It is a sad state of affairs when you refuse to vote simply because you are so repulsed by the candidates and their stands on the issues that you would prefer to have Satan represent you. I must say that nothing shocks me after my brief foray into the sordid world of local politics and activism but even I , a person whose cynicism knows no bounds, was amazed at the lengths dark money groups went to to smear and discredit their opponents. The blatant misrepresentations contained in these dark money hit pieces were laughable but the consequences could have been serious. The 2 groups responsible for these half truths and distortions did not feel obligated to disclose the names of some of the folks responsible for these smear campaigns. It was obvious they were supporting the pro development faction at City Hall. Apparently the Mayors commitment to transparency doesn’t extend to those who support his pro development agenda. Don’t practice – what I preach. Of course, the candidates who were the beneficiaries of this dark money never bothered to repudiate the actions of these groups and didn’t seem to find the extra cash unpalatable either. Actions speak louder than words anyway. Maybe we can use that slogan next election season on mailers financed by legitimate citizen groups. Even the Scottsdale Republic, your official source for non news, felt obligated to comment on the egregious behavior of dark money groups. Must have been a refreshing change of pace for the 2 reporters they have left. Actual news , potential misconduct – all that stuff you wanted to shed light on when you were a fresh faced journalism student.. Somehow I don’t think your parents mortgaged their home and took out student loans so you could write about creative mac and cheese recipes and Scottsdale Food Truck Caravans. Really. Page 2 , Scottsdale Republic, October 31 2014. I’m confident that the Republics failure to report on these dark money groups would have earned them an even worse reputation than they currently enjoy – in some circles.
In spite of my complete and total disgust at the lack of respect local officials have shown for long time residents and their wishes, I decided to shake off my dark mood and vote rather than join the ranks of the disgruntled non voters. You see , I did not want the forces of darkness financed with all that dark money to prevail. If you ever felt that your vote didn’t matter ( and who hasn’t ) , take a gander at some of the local and national election results. Razor thin margins of victory separated candidates in many races. In Scottsdale for example, the margin of votes separating candidates Kathy Littlefield and Dennis Robbins was closer than the space separating apartment dwellers in some of the many luxury sardine cans I mean apartment communities that litter our local landscape. Yes, this was an election that required voter participation, an informed electorate and the ability to turn a blind eye to the more undesirable and odiferous aspects of the political process. . In other words, it was time to grab a pair of boots, hold your nose and dive in with eyes wide open, recognizing that you might not get everything you wanted. At the very least you might be able to prevent the bad guys from getting everything they wanted – like your neighborhood. Note : Watch for my upcoming masterpiece, an epic and nod to comedian David Letterman entitled , ” Top 10 signs a developer may want your property ” It’s an informative piece that gives the average hood dweller tips on how to identify the tell tall signs that may mean your hood is marked – for death. . I am confident I can rely on some of you to forward this to interested parties. I need a staff.
And so, on election night I joined the ranks of the few, the proud, the disillusioned voters who were huddled around their TVS and mobile devices hoping to get a look at Kim Kardashians latest nude selfie/shameless piece of self promotion ? Oh wait. No – election results. Did our dreams come true or would our worst nightmares become reality? The battle lines had been clearly drawn. The ” Just say GO ” camp/pro development VS the ” Just say no “camp. The third group lands somewhere in the middle. I refer to them as the ” Go slower gang ” Yes, the ” noisy minority ” as the dark money group referred to them against the well financed ” majority “. Guess what? The noisy minority votes. Who knew. Apparently some who were misguided enough to ask for my advice actually took it this time. When asked who I thought they should vote for, I told them as I always do to do their own homework but a good rule of thumb was to support the guy/gal who was the target of attack campaigns. There is a reason some shadowy group is spending big bucks to discredit them and buy an election.
Politics doesn’t tend to encourage a positive outlook but I recognize the value city officials and the Republic Newspaper place on all things ” positive ” so I’ll give it a try. The electorate was fairly positive. They seem to prefer the go slow crowd. They prefer a more balanced approach to development/redevelopment issues and want a more citizen driven council agenda – not a developer driven agenda. Live with it. . Yup- all that dark money spent and only one of the three candidates these groups were so shamelessly promoting was – elected. Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for but you sure get – what you deserve. Gee I wonder what their ROI/return on investment was? Wonder who could calculate that for us. I know. Lets ask former City Treasurer and now Council Member elect David Smith. He’s good with numbers. Perhaps he can calculate it for them – unless he’s busy building pyramids/schemes. Yet another bogus claim made against him by dark money foes.
On another note, I must admit I was simultaneously confused and amused by council candidate Jennifer Petersons assertion that Scottsdale must morph from a city of no into a city of go. Hmmmm. Allow me to pause as I try to recall any apartment project or bar proposal the city has denied during the last 5 year developer inspired reign of terror. The only possible way we could become any more a city of ” go ” would be to remove all that traffic calming that so impedes our progress or get rid of a few of those ” classic ” no go trolleys that should have been retired months ago. Or perhaps we could have developers sit on the council dias and eliminate the middle man. Oh – wait. Never mind.
Now that the election dust has settled, most of the campaign signs have been vandalized, the bullets I mean ballots have been counted- What’s the message? That may depend on who you ask. The paper seems to feel there is a clear division in the city between growth and slow growth advocates. It is obvious that residents expect the future vision for the city to be driven by their agenda and desires and not $ signs and developer dreams.. Some may wish to ponder the possibility that that slim margin of votes Mr Robbins lost by could have been the result of that noisy minority. They prefer not to be insulted – or misled. I think these election results demonstrated the residents desire for – balance . .Many are not firmly aligned with either camp. They want to see a more balanced approach to development, an approach that is far more thoughtful and creative. It doesn’t take any talent to overpopulate an area and blanket every square inch of available land ( and some that isn’t available ) with multifamily housing and bars. Oh – I know the forces of darkness claimed in their mailers that all these apartments won’t create any traffic or crime. Invisible – traffic. Reminds me of a T shirt I purchased in Rocky Point. It listed the 10 stages of Tequila on the front. By stage 10 you are not only invisible but bullet proof. Claiming that all these apartments will create little traffic makes as much sense as saying ” Hey, I was just diagnosed with Ebola and I’m going to Disneyland, – bowling , a wedding. Oh – wait. That actually happened.
Allow me to share some final thoughts.
– People get their news from a variety of sources , not just the newspaper. It does seem, however, that we need a better source for local news since the Scottsdale Republic appears to be preoccupied with all things – trivial. The dumbing down of the electorate is not a lofty goal.
– We actually elected 4 people to the council. 4 for 3 seats. With Kathy Littlefield you get Bob Littlefield. A 2 fer – 2 for the price of one..More bang for the buck. Great ROI. Does anyone actually think Bob Littlefield will be content to sit on the sidelines and become a house husband?
– Voters understand that these apartments are not being built for the middle class or seniors as promoted by one of the dark money mailers. Most of the communities being built are billed as luxury, exclusive with rents to match. They are designed to appeal to the young , single, upscale demographic some on council prefer to replace existing residents with. Residents need to remain vigilant. These folks have no problem bull dozing existing middle class hoods to make way for upper class housing.
– There seems to be a variety of citizen groups but they aren’t cohesive. Seems there may be some turmoil in the activist ranks after one activist/citizen group committed the unpardonable sin of endorsing candidates before seeking approval from – headquarters. Well. I for one was happy to see some folks display a little independence. That’s the beauty of living in the USA afterall. Activist groups should realize that everyone is entitled to their opinion – and their vote. That doesn’t mean they are unworthy to breath the same air you do. Perhaps you can kiss and make up before next election season. After all, you may need to heal that council split created by three yes votes and three ( ? ) no votes. We all know where the Mayor stands.
Are there signs of hope in a political system dominated by dark money and unresponsive to residents? These election results contain a glimmer f hope. Two out of Three – ain’t bad. I am going to put a positive spin on these election results. Some may not be happy with the outcome but there’s a little something for everyone to love – or hate. Linda Milhaven is a strong advocate for the pro development camp. Kathy Littlefield ( and her husband ) are long time advocates for the – other camp. David Smith? Well, if he isn’t busy building pyramids he may provide some much needed balance.
The theme song for this election season? Hey Big Spender. The moral? Big money – no votes or for you long time supporters of Scottsdales faux western image – Big hat – No cattle.