The Good Humor Mayor

The most notable achievement of Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s 4+ years in the big chair is–drum roll (“Drumstick?”) please–overturning a decades-old Scottsdale ban on the jingle truck in order to benefit ONE campaign supporter over the objections of a multitude of residents who remember WHY the ban was instituted in the first place.

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I find ice cream trucks annoying and I don’t want them in front of my house, but I wouldn’t have fought strongly either direction…except I would have carefully considered the root causes of the ban, as well as the concerns of the residents who turned out to oppose overturning it.

Remarkably, Lane thanks by-name the council members who voted with him. I guess those who provided the important legal counterpoints to the rah-rah squad and represented concerned residents in doing so don’t have any value in Lane’s version of ‘freedom.’

Here’s Lane’s “My Turn” column from the Scottsdale Republic yesterday, which you might not otherwise be able to find:

Lifting city’s ban on ice-cream trucks an exercise in freedom

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Scotts­dale’s most famous young entrepre­neur, Leo Blavin, who wrote to me 18 months ago and demanded that the city’s ban on his business, Leo’s Ice Cream, be lifted.

Thanks to his commitment, hard work and tenacity, ice-cream trucks are once again legal in Scottsdale. I would also like to thank the four council mem­bers who joined me in voting to lift the ban: Vice Mayor Suzanne Klapp, and Council members Dennis Robbins, Linda Milhaven and Virginia Korte.

Looking back on my childhood, I have nothing but fond memories of the ice-cream truck. When the Good Hu­mor man came down my block, the entire neighborhood would come out to greet him. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but the ice­ cream man brought our neighborhood to­gether. It was one of only a few times when large groups of par­ents and children would be out in the street together, talking to one another and enjoying each other’s company. Too many Scotts­dale neighborhoods have been deprived of this experience for far too long.

Naturally, this was an easy issue for me to get behind. Not simply because I enjoyed the weekly ice-cream truck visit when I was a child but because, at the end of the day, this argument really was not about ice-cream trucks at all. This was a debate about freedom and the role government should play in our lives.

As mayor, I will always fall on the side of government being less restric­tive rather than overly restrictive. Scottsdale’s 40-year ban on ice-cream trucks was a perfect example of gov­ernment restricting economic liberty in exchange for a false sense of security. I believe that government’s chief respon­sibility is to keep us safe but not at the expense of our liberties. As one resi­dent stated at the council meeting, if the world would be safer for kids with­out ice-cream trucks, then the world must also be safer without swimming pools and bicycles. I am confident that is not a world that any of us would want to live in.

Once again, I would like to thank and congratulate Leo Blavin for challenging his hometown to change its laws. We should all be proud that young Leo calls Arizona home. So, in a month or two when you see your first ice-cream truck in Scottsdale, think about Leo Blavin and his crusade to lift the ban on the ice-cream man that ended up being more about freedom than ice cream.

Jim Lane is mayor of Scottsdale.

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  1. I’ve never seen such a ruckus over such a small item. I remember the “ice cream man” very well from being a kid in the 1950’s in Cincinnati but when they disappeared in later years I never mourned their absence. They never came around on a regular basis anyway; besides, stores had plenty of supply.

    After reading all the back and forth arguing over this subject and the mayor actually wasting 500 words on the subject in the “Republic”, I tend to wonder what the priorities are in Scottsdale.

    Gee, now we can have easier access to constant ice cream as we watch an excess number of white elephant apartments sprout up. Thanks, city council for turning Scottsdale into the “West’s most Eastern town.” (Bob and Guy excluded)

    When can we expect Galleria II?

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