The Scottsdale Republic printed a couple of opinion columns from the good guys this morning:
Voters don’t OK Scottsdale’s debt, but shoulder the burden
There are logical fallacies and false equivalences throughout Councilman Dennis Robbins’ recent opinion piece equating Scottsdale’s excessive city debt to citizen demand for services. Debt is debt regardless of how it’s incurred. Debt means debt service, which detracts from public safety and other services.
If only 22 percent of Scottsdale’s debt is voter-approved, that means 78 percent is not! Robbins’ dismissiveness toward the majority of the debt — “vetted in a public process and approved by your elected officials,” he wrote — does not make it less burdensome, nor does it accurately portray the utter lack of substantive public discussion about the total.
Robbins would be mad as heck if one of his employees used the company credit card without explicit permission to run up a level of debt equal to three times the annual gross revenue of his business. He’d be furious if he found out about it at the end of the month via the monthly statement instead of being told immediately.
Ninety-nine percent of the citizens of Scottsdale are shocked when they find out how much debt we have, and rightly so given how Robbins and his colleagues keep them in the dark.
Robbins rationalizes increasing debt and raising taxes by crowing about low tax rates. Taxes are low, therefore we should raise them? Nowhere does Robbins talk about efficiency in spending those tax revenues.
Yes, Scottsdale citizens have high expectations about public services. However, that’s not the same as handing Scottsdale government a blank check.
John Washington is a former mayoral candidate in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale is unique without rail transit, big-city problems
My family owns and has operated a hotel on the corner of Scottsdale and Chaparral roads since 1953. My dad originally named the resort Paradise Valley Guest Ranch. Today it has grown from 37 kitchenettes to more than 300 suites. He started this business because of the desire of others to come and experience the desert lifestyle in the “West’s Most Western Town.”
Yes, this city was built on tourism. To say otherwise would be inaccurate. To Scottsdale’s credit, we have remained a tourist destination. People come from all over the world to get a feel of the “Southwest.” They love to explore and shop the downtown/Old Town stores along with its many great restaurants and fine art galleries.
To say I’m a little bewildered by assertions that Scottsdale needs a dialogue regarding rail transit in Scottsdale is an understatement. Everyone who has lived in Scottsdale for the past 10 years knows we have had an ongoing dialogue regarding rail transit. I can say this without any reservation because Chaparral Suites hosted most, if not all, the forums held regarding rail in Scottsdale.
There were at least a thousand individuals who attended the numerous forums. Standing-room-only crowds came to see and hear transportation experts from around the country describe the pros and cons of rail transit.
The negative response to rail was overwhelming. It was all over the media. There was so much attention given to this topic, the City Council hired an outside rail-consulting firm to hold meetings to determine if there was indeed a need for rail; $1.2 million later, they concluded rail transit was not wanted or needed in Scottsdale.
To ask the taxpayers to pony up another $1 million or $2 million is unconscionable. Besides, it would have to go to a vote of the people, which would surely end in another humiliating defeat for the rail lobby. The rail proponents might be silenced, but it would come with a hefty price tag extracted from the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Over the past few years, Scottsdale residents have observed a city determined to build a high-rise apartment complex on every corner along Scottsdale Road. This is called Transit Oriented Development and gives developers and rail planners a reason to call for fixed-rail transit along any major corridor. Most of the small businesses along Scottsdale Road would be put out of business by construction time or condemnation. Why would you kill the goose that laid the golden egg?
We are not Mesa or Phoenix. We pride ourselves on living in Scottsdale, which is unique, clean and extremely friendly. Think about why you chose to live in Scottsdale and you will agree with me. Please do not let vested interests turn Scottsdale into just another city with typical “big city” problems. The results of rail on any part of Scottsdale Road would be disastrous.
I am an unabashed proponent of tourism as well as a non-apologetic booster of Scottsdale, the city I love and call my home.
Tom Silverman is owner and general manager of Chaparral Suites Resort [and a former Scottsdale city councilman].