Down For The Count

The votes have been counted and I’m out.

I’m off the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission by virtue of a 4-3 vote of City Council. Thumbs down from Emperor Lane, and Senators Milhaven and Klapp were not surprising. Dennis Robbins joined the other three in chastising me for being disrespectful to the Council lately (more on that below), but then did an unexpected about-face to vote to retain me.

Ron McCullagh, on the other hand “did me a favor” (his words) and voted against me to ensure my removal. He and the others also voted against what appeared to be 100% support from the public for me to be retained and overwhelming opposition to the Airport area apartment projects that started all this.

City commissioners and board members serve at the pleasure of the City Council, and it was no longer the pleasure of the Council for me to serve. Ironically, my three-year term would have ended in March, and the City Council has shown lately they don’t value input from the Airport Commission anyway.

Councilwoman Lisa Borowksky

To detach and step back from the situation, it looks like a massive political blunder by Mayor Jim Lane. Despite his protestations to the contrary, he sure seemed petty and vindictive. Kudos to Councilwoman Borowsky for calling him on it and for citing specific examples where he’d essentially done the same thing or worse to her for no legitimate reason at all. Those actions were his prerogative as mayor, but they certainly speak volumes to contradict his assertions that he’s not petulant.

Lane may think of himself as a tough guy from New Jersey, but Borowsky handed him a healthy smackdown. She flat-out spanked him.

Now on the subject of being disrespectful…

I first caught on to what I’m about to tell you when I served on the Channel 11 Programming Commission. You know the one that was supposed to help improve the quality and relevance of programming, make it more CNN and less C-SPAN? The commission that was supposed to help clear up the programming guidelines in order to reduce the previous levels of political bias? The one that got killed off just as it was beginning to make a difference? Yes, that one.

Michael Ryan,Scottsdale Republic GM

In one of our meetings, a fellow commissioner made a comment to the effect the commission was being too political; I think his exact words were that some of us “had political agendas.” I noted at the time that he was one of the most political of the group, a very strong Chamber of Commerce supporter. The Chamber had been very active in promoting programming with potential for political bias, including a show hosted by the Mike Ryan, General Manager of the Scottsdale Republic (and member of the board of Scottsdale Leadership, referenced below).

Since that time I have observed this behavior many times, and usually from those who are the worst about doing exactly what they are criticizing. Sigmund Freud called this “psychological projection.”

Accusing someone of being “too political” is a little bit nebulous. However, calling someone “disrespectful” evokes much stronger feelings. I will have to say in deference to Robbins, Milhaven, Klapp, McCullagh, and Lane that perhaps I have been a bit disrespectful in my choice of words. For those lapses, I apologize. However, what I think they are really upset about is that I’ve been confrontational about their disrespect.

The difference is that their disrespect is sugar-coated and they are much more refined in their choice of words. However, at virtually every turn, with virtually every official vote, they have been disrespectful to the people who elected them. Robbins and Lane are the worst because they actively represented themselves to be something they were not. Klapp, Milhaven, and McCullagh have chosen a “more honorable” (if that term applies) path in just not saying much upon which the voters could make a judgment.

So, who’s more disrespectful? Someone who is honest and calls it like it is, coarse language and all? Or someone who misrepresents his or her true nature to get elected?

Ironically, the Scottsdale Leadership organization opened the City Council meeting tonight by announcing a new “Civil Dialog Initiative.” Great idea. After all, can’t we all just get along? Here are a few of those principles:

Principles for Civil Dialogue

As a member of the Scottsdale community, I will:
Genuinely listen, Speak respectfully and Be accountable for my words and actions.

‘Genuinely listen’ means I will listen for the purpose of understanding the speaker’s point of view, without prejudging whether that point of view is right or wrong.

‘Speak respectfully’ means I will voice my point of view calmly and respectfully without losing the passion of my position and commitment, discussing the issues without personal criticisms.

‘Being accountable’ means I accept responsibility for my words and actions.

I’m going to say this as respectfully as I can: What a crock. Here’s my version of Principles for Civil Dialog:

Respect starts with honesty. I will speak truthfully. Being “truthful” does not mean merely not telling lies. There are hundreds of ways to be dishonest without telling lies, but none are more honorable…or respectful.

It’s easy to be polite and genteel when you always win. You aren’t being honest with yourself if you expect others to be polite when your winning comes at their expense.

“It’s not personal” is not a valid defense for being a jerk. “You are being disrespectful” is not a valid criticism of someone who disagrees with you or points out your failings, regardless of the coarseness of their words.

‘Being accountable’ means I accept responsibility for my words, my actions, AND my inaction.

Leadership is defined not by saying “yes” all the time, but rather by when and to whom you say “no.”

At the risk of sounding even more disrespectful, Scottsdale Leadership has a reputation for churning out some fine and loyal Chamber of Commerce members. These new principles elevate the Chamber’s artful use of psychological projection to a level approaching a science.

I will give the Chamber Caucus some credit, though: My use of phrases like “you suck” in addressing the Council may be truthful and accurate, but it gives them something to criticize other than my logic…which is normally pretty sound (humility isn’t on either their list of principles or mine). To that end, such language has impact, but it also degrades the message.

My wife and a couple of my friends have told me this for a long time. I get it now, and to the Mayor and council members to whom I’ve previously been disrespectful, I apologize.

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