This interview appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic:
‘Cronyism’ on City Council still frustrates Phillips
Editor’s note: Five months ago today, Guy Phillips and Virginia Korte were sworn in as the newest members of the Scottsdale City Council. Both accepted the Scottsdale Republic ’s invitation to reflect on their experience as council members to date. Our interview with Korte will be published next Saturday .
In your first public remarks as a councilman in January, you stressed the need to work together with your fellow council members for the city’s greater good. How would you assess the strength of that collaboration so far?
Nonexistent! Unfortunately for the citizens of Scottsdale, the efforts to protect cronyism — aka, “the good ol’ boys network” — is alive and well at City Hall. As disappointing as this may be to the majority of citizens looking for representation from their council members, I can only assure them I will do my part to champion their concerns.
What are some of the challenges of being a new council member?
I’d have to say juggling my time between family, my business (Phillips is a self-employed air-conditioning contractor) and upholding my obligations as a councilman.
You were sworn in alongside Virginia Korte as the council’s two newest members. Since then, you’ve voted differently on a number of issues, often related to development. How would you characterize your relationship with her?
I try to listen to all concerned opinions in order to formulate the best solution to all council actions. That also includes listening to Councilwoman Korte. She and I seldom see eye to eye, especially when it comes to development projects that involve rezoning to allow for increased height and density. I always give the neighborhoods and citizens first priority over the developer.
The council has held some especially important votes this year on matters such as the upcoming bond package, city employee pay, and the Las Aguas development in south Scottsdale. Is there a vote you’ve been a part of so far that you feel is of particular significance to the city?
By all means the upcoming bond package election. I was totally frustrated by the council’s actions regarding this matter. When the city is facing $1.2 billion in debt — $5,746 per capita — I find it hard to believe a council in good conscience could place a “wish list” of this magnitude before the voters. It will be difficult to impossible for the citizens who will ultimately be paying the tab to take this litany of projects seriously.
You and Councilman Bob Littlefield have represented the two dissenting votes in several notable council decisions so far this year, from development projects to ice-cream trucks.
How discouraging are the results of such votes, and are you concerned about this city’s direction?
I’m not as discouraged as I am disappointed. In my opinion, Councilman Littlefield tries to look at the overall picture and hone in on the effects the council’s decision will have on the city. I know it’s very frustrating for him to watch fellow council members ignore or disregard what he is saying, especially when he is right on target as to what will happen. I, too, now find myself in his shoes. I look forward to the day that ties to cronyism can be loosened on some members of the current council.
Lastly, what are some of the most important issues you anticipate the council will address in the coming months?
This so-called “dialogue” on light rail and modern streetcar in Scottsdale is a hoax. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you understand we’ve had an ongoing dialogue regarding this matter. This is yet another move by a few misguided council members who … are unwilling or incapable of coming to grips with the true facts regarding rail transit in Scottsdale. The consultants hired by the city to evaluate the city’s need for rail transit concluded it was unwarranted for the city and unwanted by its citizens. …
Coming fresh off the campaign trail, I can attest to the fact that no minds have changed regarding rail in Scottsdale.
For this and a myriad of other reasons, I remain opposed to any form of rail transit in Scottsdale.