This column appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic:
Unflattering theory why bonds failed
The Scottsdale Republic has reported that the recent rejection of bond issues for Scottsdale split along regional borders by significant margins. The widest percentage of negative votes occurred in Scottsdale’s far north, typically where the wealthier residents live. Most of the city services the bonds proposed were intended for improvements in southern Scottsdale.
Since there is no available research on the motives of those who rejected these important infrastructure bond requests, it is nonetheless relevant to speculate on probable causes and to initiate a dialogue among voters. Of course, Scottsdale leadership may have asked for too much all at once and for too many packaged requests for the citizens to parse all the details, as Bob and Kathy Littlefield have explained.
Clearly, the distressed economy makes everyone wary of increased public capital expenditures, and this idea possibly influenced the rejection.
A virulent and resurgent anti-government movement and mood at all levels may also have contributed. But people, this is Scottsdale. Surely we can rise above the triviality of local political motivations and place our city’s needs above bickering personnel concerns. Why don’t we want improvements in our parks, libraries and community facilities? Can it only be because people believe the City Council is disingenuous?
I would like to add another, more probable reason that informed citizens and research sociologists can pursue: That we enjoy the benefits of our illustrious city but really hate to pay for them (“No new taxes”), even though most of us can afford the modest increases. In other words, we have civic pride but are tight with our wallets when it comes to spending for the overall public good.
Scottsdale resident Don Sharpes is professor, Emeritus College, at Arizona State University.