In another of her anonymous “Voice of Scottsdale” blog posts yesterday, Scottsdale city councilwoman Virginia Korte accuses the Arizona Republic of an attempt at “making the news” by whipping up a controversy over whether and where Scottsdale will get light-railroaded.
I agree with Korte on her first point: The Republic has all-but-abandoned the notion of a Scottsdale “community edition” of their newspaper. However, I was heartened by reporter Parker Leavitt’s attention, as I was by a recent Laurie Roberts column which skewered incumbent mayor Jim Lane for his election year equivocating about the character-busting tall buildings he’s supported with every one of his council votes.
I’ve followed some of Leavitt’s writing about Gilbert, and he’s done a darn fine job there given how the Republic’s resources are spread thin these days. Korte cites his experience as if it’s a detriment. Funny I never heard her complain about anything the Republic’s almost completely inexperienced interns have written about Scottsdale. I guess that’s because they usually spout the Korte party line.
Korte’s writing also proves that if you string enough words together in a coherent fashion and sprinkle them with some historical references, you can manage to make up an argument that less-informed readers will actually buy. This is sort of the opposite of “word salad.”
For example, she references former Republic publisher Eugene Pulliam as having “single-handedly killed the freeways” in the Phoenix metro area. She ignores the part about how the freeway system was forestalled by popular vote…perhaps somewhat influenced by Pulliam’s editorials, but it wasn’t like the populace was especially clamoring for freeways.
And Korte ignores the fact that the biggest proponents of freeways were real estate developers and the real estate-industrial complex. As with light rail, the freeways weren’t a transportation solution, they were a development tool.
To that point, Korte also conveniently ignores the fact that the outcry against the 101 east of Scottsdale was largely because of its original route along Pima Road, right next to some of the older neighborhoods in Scottsdale.
And as with the condemnation of rights-of-way through historic neighborhoods in Phoenix for early freeways, many folks in Scottsdale are concerned about the impact of light rail construction on the physical character and historical significance of our little town.
Korte criticizes Leavitt for equating the use of the word “rail” in Scottsdale’s Transportation Master Plan to “light rail.” Give me a break! What other kind of “rail” could this possibly mean? Street cars? There is so little difference in the two from a community impact perspective, that this is an intellectually insulting criticism. And there’s no difference in the fact that they both hemorrhage money, requiring an eternal public subsidy.
Finally, Korte closes her column with dueling quotes from her colleagues on the city council, David Smith and Linda Milhaven:
“I believe it (light rail) would impose on the citizens of Scottsdale an enormous capital and operating burden that would likely be technologically obsolete, perhaps before it would even be completed.”
“I believe that we need good connections to the regional transportation system and good connections to get people around in Scottsdale. We should be open to all possibilities.”
So this argument IS about “light” rail, and there IS controversy about light rail in Scottsdale!
Korte supports rail for three reasons: 1) She’ll get a lot of campaign contributions from light rail construction companies. 2) She has gotten a lot of money from developers who hope to build thousands of more apartments (just what we need) along the light rail routes. 3) She hopes to enhance the value of her own land holdings in Scottsdale.
But, what do you expect? If Korte’s not honest enough to put her name on her blog, why wouldn’t she shill for light rail? At least Eugene Pulliam had the backbone to write under his own name.
I hope you’ll keep this in mind when you vote in the City Council election this fall.