Voice of Scottsdale published this column yesterday. You’ll note my corrections out-dented below.
Loren Molever Becoming Political Lightning Rod.
Loren Molever is turning into a lightning rod that, unfortunately, is keeping the political storm surrounding the General Plan Update Task Force swirling.
The esteemed member of the Task Force can’t hold his tongue. In fact a growing number of people are saying: Thou protesteth too much. Way too much! An experienced attorney like Molever should know better. But he can’t control himself. And it doesn’t seem like anyone on the Task Force is willing to try and control him either.
Molever is now the Task Force’s self-appointed “Junkyard Dog.”
In a recent effort to refute the allegations by the four members who resigned from the Task Force claiming they were maligned and mistreated by other members of the panel, Molever fired off on the four former members in a scathing Scottsdale Republic column. He wrote: “This concerted resignation would be nothing more than an example of immaturity if it were not more likely an insidious step in a malicious course to undermine the General Plan now in progress.”
Although he should have … he didn’t stop there.
“Everyone should be opposed and appalled by their disingenuous attempts to hijack the process, bogging it down with submissions of ‘white papers’ consisting of self-serving opinions and arguments, peppered with enough (often irrelevant) facts to allow them to feign surprise when anyone questioned either these positions or their efforts to wrestle the process toward their minority views in a transparent effort to micro-manage our City Council.”
No doubt Molever expected his rant to convince people that there wasn’t an ounce of truth to the claims of Jim Heitel, Howard Myers, Ned O’Hearn and Copper Phillips. But he failed miserably. If anything, his poor choice of words and antagonistic attitude have had the opposite effect.
Tuesday night community activist John Washington petitioned the City Council to remove Molever from the General Plan Task Force for what was described as his “uncivil behavior.” The Council rejected the petition. If they had done otherwise, it probably would have only compounded the Molever problem. Actually, the only time the Council has ever intervened in the affairs of a citizen-volunteer commission or task force is when they booted someone from the Airport Advisory Commission in 2011 by the name of John Washington.
There’s a pretty big difference between this situation and what happened with the Airport Advisory Commission. Here, Molever is attacking and insulting fellow task force members. In the case of the AAC, the City Council ignored the advice of the commissioners regarding building high-density housing projects next to Scottsdale Airport. I sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration and asked them to provide an opinion to the City Council, which apparently no one on staff or the Council had thought to do before! Naturally, they were highly embarrassed, and that was the real reason I was fired.
And, the Council HAS previously “intervened in the affairs of a citizen-volunteer commission.” See below.
Loren Molever isn’t doing the Task Force any favors. So it would be wise for them to put a muzzle on their Junkyard Dog before he does any more damage to their credibility.
Food For Thought.
Discretion being the better part of valor has led Rick Kidder to resign as vice chairman of the General Plan Update Task Force.
For anyone familiar with the convoluted process by which Kidder was nominated and then named as second in command at the last Task Force meeting, his resignation shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, this Task Force is clearly contending to be the craziest citizen advisory panel since the defunct and infamous Channel 11 Programming Commission.
The Channel 11 Programming Commission was euthanized after it became a political hot potato. In pot-calling-kettle exercise, one commissioner (Pete Klute) accused others (me, Lamar Whitmer) of having a political agenda. I called him out on that, and he hasn’t spoken to me since.
Beyond that, however, the main reason the commission was killed off is that we pointed out contradictions between the enabling ordinance for the commission and restrictions placed on commission purview by the city attorney. One of the biggest points of contention was our desire to review the Cox Cable franchise agreement.
Cox is required by that agreement to provide the city with a ‘government access channel,’ which is CityCable Channel 11. Obviously there are a number of problems with programming on Channel 11, and with the utility of the broadcast ‘programming guide.’ Cox didn’t want to fix those problems, and city staff came to their defense instead of working toward making the channel a better asset for the citizens.
And for anyone who has ever attended one of the Task Force’s evening meetings, you are aware that they are “working dinners.” Food is catered for the 19-members who usually meet from 5:30 well into the evening. Some joke that they “will work for food.”
Two weeks ago, when members decided to name a vice chairman of the Task Force, Kidder had momentarily excused himself from the meeting to fill his plate in another room. He was gone just long enough for a couple of his colleagues to reject being nominated to the seat. Then, while Kidder was still helping himself to the evening meal, he was nominated to serve, returning just in time to hear the unanimous vote naming him vice chairman.
The Task Force had their vice chairman … but not for long.
Now the vice chairmanship seat sits empty because no one on the Task Force has the appetite to fill it.
This week’s best sound bite comes from City Manager Fritz Behring who is attempting to find the funding for 12 of the priority capital improvement projects voters rejected in last fall’s Bond Election. He explained to the City Council that he still expected there would have to be another Bond Election in the future by saying:
“Our capital (project) needs aren’t going away because voters said, ‘no.’ We have to give them reasons to say, ‘yes.'”