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By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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*Dan Schweiker may take another run for the Scottsdale City Council in 2018.  All three incumbents – Linda Milhaven, David Smith and Kathy Littlefield – are suggesting they will run too.

*As the Scottsdale City Manager saga turns . . .  it appears that new candidates will be interviewed in early December with a decision possible December 8th.

jim-norton*If lobbyist Jim Norton can find a way to get a massive tax break for a new Arizona Coyotes arena through the Arizona State Legislature Trump should immediately send him to the West Bank to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

*In an interview this week with John Gambadoro, the biggest radio voice in Arizona sports, Coyotes’ Minority Owner Anthony LeBlanc said he didn’t want a public vote.  Gee, wonder why?

*Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is not shying away from rumored mayoral aspirations and could assemble an interesting campaign coalition.

*Speaking of mayoral aspirations count Mary Hamway, Paul Dembow and Mark Stanton among the leading contenders to succeed current Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins in 2018.

brnovich*Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has put together a very impressive host committee list for his first major fundraiser toward his 2018 re-election campaign.

 

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lane portraitIn Scottsdale even winners apparently whine too.

After the Scottsdale Mayor’s “Laneslide” victory Tuesday night and subject council election results the Arizona Republic and Parker Leavitt properly interviewed candidates for a story.
Expectedly Bob Littlefield didn’t congratulate Lane on a race well run. Indeed, he still to this day hasn’t had the class to call with congratulations.  Littlefield carped about not having the resources to compete with Lane even though he had had them to win all of his other races in Scottsdale.  Maybe it had to do with calling the city’s business leaders “scumbags” and warning all in the business community “you should fear me.”  Littlefield even included a missive on one of his mailers talking about all the “dark money” Lane was receiving in the race.  That was a lie.  Lane didn’t benefit from a dime of such support.  That Littlefield couldn’t raise sufficient money speaks to his own deficiencies. After all, Hugh Hallman ran for Mayor of Tempe in 2004 without taking a single contribution with those having interests before the City Council and won in an upset over the establishment candidate.  Sound familiar? Littlefield just couldn’t get it done.

littlefield at deskSimilarly, council victor Guy Phillips also lamented “dark money” in his race – it was limited – confusing what the Realtors Association did in support of his opponents.  Their support was fully transparent, listing the source of the money used on their mail pieces.

Note to Littlefield and Phillips:  dark money is anonymous.  Get your facts and terms straight before casting aspersions.  In the case of Littlefield it’s par for the course but in the case of Phillips it undermines his impressive re-election accomplishment.  Be a guy who’s a grateful winner not a whiner.

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Part I:  City Manager Search

A key rule in life and business is when something isn’t working don’t keep doing the same thing.  Change course.  That’s certainly in order now that the Scottsdale City Council has again failed to reach consensus on a new City Manager, which is long overdue.

It’s confounding that the apparent direction from council is to go back to the same process and outside consultants that have failed before.  Will the third time really be the charm?  We think not.

So here are some people and procedures that should be considered so this embarrassing saga for Scottsdale doesn’t continue.  The city’s leaders need to remember this is Scottsdale not Buckeye and act accordingly.  If you don’t like the people you’re being fed go recruit talent across Arizona and the country that can easily be identified to you.  Baseball teams don’t outsource General Manager searches to human resources.  Their owners and presidents identify and recruit.  The same should be done now by a subcommittee of the council that has yet to coalesce around one candidate.  This search committee might be made up of Mayor Lane, Councilwoman Korte and Councilman Phillips, each members of the conflicting caucuses.  Fritz Behring was a City Manager hired by acclimation.  It shouldn’t be this difficult.

Absent this new process go back to people that have well served the city in the past, or who could in the future.  People like Lisa Collins, Dan Worth, Dick Bowers or Topeka, Kansas City Manager Jim Colson who was passed over previously.

The city is badly in need of a permanent City Manager.  And badly in need of changing the way it’s going about it.


Part II:  Special Event Funding

In 2010 Scottsdale voters wisely chose to slightly increase hotel taxes to better fund Scottsdale tourism.  Part of those funds are dedicated to assisting new events become the next Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show or Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Results have been mixed, as can be expected of any new program.

But one recent approval should be repulsive to all.

Upon a recommendation from the Tourism Development Commission the Scottsdale City Council approved $82,500 for the azcentral Food & Wine Festival.  Notwithstanding there are 9,000 such festivals around Arizona (and this one is owned by USA Today & Arizona Republic who hardly need promotional help) the event was held in 2015 at Scottsdale Fashion Square.  But for its 2016 event held last weekend it decided to move to Salt River Fields.  The audacity to ask for Scottsdale monies as it exited the community is almost impressive if it weren’t infuriating. Unbelievably, a commission and council indulged.  Furthermore, the event was taking place on the exact same weekend the same groups decided to apporppriate $60,000 for the “Grand Prix” in downtown Scottsdale.  Notwithstanding the paucity of that event why would any Scottsdale leader subsidize an event outside of Scottsdale to compete with one it was contemporaneously funding in downtown?

Scottsdale has been duly recognized for being an effective run government.  This is an exception to the rule and should not happen again.

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alex-3Who is Jason Alexander? No, not the actor who played the neurotic yet lovable George Constanza on the hit sitcom Seinfeld. Who exactly is the man who has burst onto the local political scene, leading the charge against the Desert Discovery Center in North Scottsdale? He just makes it so difficult to join his crusade, even though we were staunch opponents of the DDC long before he was.

By all appearances, he appears to be a regular Scottsdale dude. He’s a “Senior QA Architect with 20 years of experience in software development and quality assurance for agile development teams.”

He also seems like a good father who’s also an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys biking, hiking and partaking in outdoor activities all across Arizona, but specifically in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. As someone who presents himself as a lover and defender of Scottsdale and the Preserve, it’s no wonder that he’s become the leader of NO DDC.

Further examination, however, reveals a hypocritical individual who may not really care for Scottsdale residents and the community he lives in. Since 2007, Alexander has kept a pretty active blog with vignettes of parenting and day-to-day life. In addition to these funny stories though, readers get a glimpse into why he’s full of contradictions.

In numerous posts throughout the years, Alexander refers to the city of Scottsdale as “Snottsdale," here, here and here.  A Princeton-educated computer engineer who is no doubt familiar with a keyboard, Alexander’s denigration of the city’s name can’t be anything but intentional due to the fact that the “C” key and “N” key are not very close to one another.

His dislike of the city isn’t limited to altering the name of the city in his posts. In other blog posts, Alexander also insults city employees and staff. In one, Alexander compares the lifeguards at the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic & Fitness Center to “Hitler youth” because they enforce rules that ensure everyone, including Alexander’s two children, enjoys the pool safely. In another post, Scottsdale land managers are called asshats” and “eveeeil because while doing their jobs, they bulldozed a small hill on Gateway Loop, which Alexander liked to use for biking.

On top of this dislike for all things Scottsdale, Alexander appears to dislike Scottsdale residents, including the very same people who most likely form the basis of support for his NO DDC group. While writing on the problems of biking and distracted drivers, Alexander calls Scottsdale drivers dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash. In another post on his love of being active and outside, Alexander pokes fun at Scottsdale retirees who aren’t as active as he and writes that these retirees have mostly gotten here by indoor jobs . Showing disdain for those who enjoy the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Alexander writes about a particularly intense bike ride and why he enjoyed it so much. Looks like he loved this bike ride due to the fact that there were “No nimby HOAs, no dodging herds of slack-jawed hikers around Sunrise and Lost Dog…”. In recent months, these residents, slack-jawed hikers, and retirees who are the object of his derision have become his allies. Maybe they’d resist doubling down on supporting his cause if they knew what he really thinks of them?

Alexander, who according to his blog, used to live in Legislative District 19, also demonstrates an apparent dislike for Mormons and members of Arizona’s active LDS community. In a post deriding Arizona’s stringent DUI laws, which are meant to keep the community safe from impaired drivers, Alexander describes writing to Mesa legislators State Senator Chuck Gray and Representatives Kirk Adams and Rich Crandall about why Arizona’s DUI laws are too stringent. When he fails to get a response from them, he posts that the letters won’t do any good when “all 3 legislators are Mormon, very very overtly Mormon”. He goes on to write that he believes that these legislators are “using political offices to promote a morality” and quips that due to their actions, he had to “seriously think about moving to Colorado, or at least Scottsdale.” Finally, he writes, “I will not vote for a Mormon legislator again, period.  I haven’t in years based legitimately on different politics, but this is now my single-issue.”.

Most quizzical of all is Alexander’s own political endorsements and views, which don’t jive with who he supports now. On explaining why he campaigned in support of Effie Carlson for her state legislative bid in 2014, Alexander writes that he and his wife were a part of “the last band of sane people in AZ LD23, standing against the Armies of Whiteness,” and writes that residents of Fountain Hills are “a bunch of scared white people, responding to a wingnut who sprouts teabaggery”. We can only assume that the “wingnut” he’s referring to is Jay Lawrence, but guess who else could be that individual? You guessed it: none other than Alexander’s supposed Preserve savior, Bob Littlefield, who was also running for that seat in 2014.

Not only does Alexander offend members of Arizona’s active Latter Day Saints community, but he also uses one of the English language’s most derogative terms in a joking and “comical” manner in numerous posts. That’s rarely wise for an Anglo. In one post while describing his reaction to an occasion when his wife spilled soda in his vehicle, he writes, “…I only yelled once when my wife spilled cherry soda all over the car. Cherry m*thafuggin soda IN.THE.CAR! Give a n*gga a break!!”. In another blog post where he criticizes Arizona’s inconsistent distracted driver laws, he writes, “N*ggaz was ready ta loot, bust caps off in dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash…”.  In a final post, Alexander criticizes in-car breathalyzers and again refers to himself with this vile term: I wanted to to yank the damn thing out of the car, but that anger lasted about 10 seconds til i forced the numbness back over me. Much better than looking at the calender and chafing. this is how n*ggaz do hard time.”

So who really is Jason Alexander? We may never know, but it seems that he may not really love Scottsdale after all. To form this contradictory viewpoint of how he loves and embraces his community, Scottsdale’s Alexander may have just adopted a mantra from Seinfeld’s Alexander, who playing the role of George Costanza once said, “Jerry. Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

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lane portraitWinner:  Jim Lane.    The incumbent ran the best candidate campaign since Robert Pettycrew’s shoe-string council victory in 1994, one of Drinkwater’s waltzes, or perhaps ever.  He raised big money, the most in Scottsdale history.   That’s what good campaigns do.   He spent it wisely.  Lane messaged smartly and took it to Bob Littlefield, a name who had never lost a municipal race in Scottsdale.  Most impressively, he beat Littlefield at his own game:  grassroots.  Indeed, he had so many events at Scottsdale small businesses, restaurants and bars a voter joked online if he was running for “Chief Waiter?”  Lane also doubled up Littlefield on social media.

Loser:  Littlefield.  Pummeled so thoroughly the husband selfishly has jeopardized his wife’s city council re-election bid in 2018.  After losing his State House of Representatives race in 2018 it’s the end of the line for the loquacious one. But it's not the end of the line on being classless. Littlefield apparently hasn't even called Lane to congratulate him, something even Clinton did last night despite a more blistering and consequential election.

Loser:  John Washington.  Having lost himself to Lane by 30 in 2012 Washington boasted that Littlefield was the right guy at the right time to take down Lane.  Um, no.  Washington’s screeds even went so far as to badly damage Littlefield’s campaign with absurd criticisms of some of Scottsdale’s top business leaders.  Washington is now where he belongs . .  . crossing no rhetorical Delawares let alone the Indian Bend Wash, relegated to irrelevancy in Scottsdale’s lonely crazy caucus.

Winner:  Bill Crawford.  Opting to get out of the mayoral race during the summer Crawford became an avid and effective endorser of Lane.  In so doing he’s broadened his appeal and fundraising base for not just a likely run for City Council in 2018, but a successful one too.

schweikertWinner:  David Schweikert.  With much due respect to Dan Schweiker, a successful local businessman, Schweiker had lived in the community for about 5 minutes before deciding to run for City Council.  And the only candidate who spent less on a campaign was Guy Phillips.  Virginia Korte and Suzanne Klapp outspent him by several times.  Yet, Schweiker came within a whisker of defeating incumbent Guy Phillips.  Why?  Because of a name association with well-respected Republican Congressman David Schweikert who represents much of the Scottsdale area.

Winner, Sort Of:  Virginia Korte.  She’s now the heir apparent to the Mayor’s Office.  But to win in 2020 she’s going to need to improve her campaign and message significantly.  This time around it was vacuous at the beginning before finding its stride late.  That performance in the later innings will be necessary to beat back a strong challenge that will surely come.  Korte also deserves credit for standing by core principles.  It wasn’t convenient to stand by the Desert Discovery Center.  But she did.  It wasn’t convenient to champion a tax hike for Scottsdale schools contemporaneous with her re-elect.  But she did.  And won both of them.

Mixed: David Smith.  Smith thought possible that a Littlefield victory would make him a swing vote on the city council.  It’s aong other reasons why he didn’t endorse Lane.  But that was unfortunate political calculation rather than municipal patriotism.  Right thinking people know (and Smith is one for the most part) how comedic it would have been to have Littlefield as the face of the city.  Yet, Smith indulged the notion through a misguided lens that will hurt him, should he run for re-election in 2018.

City_of_Scottsdale_Script_Logo.svgWinner:  Scottsdale.  The inmates have never yet been elected in sufficient numbers to run the asylum. And this year was no different.  The city affirmed its personality of a progressive majority with always sprinkling in a little schizophrenia.

Loser:  Trolls.  Littlefield’s were maniacal. And ultimately ineffectual.

Loser:  Jason Alexander.  He is a lesson in the wisdom of quitting while you’re ahead.  Having largely won the debate over the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) Alexander and his acolytes went Monkey Wrench Gang with tactics and targeting of Lane, Korte and Klapp rather than simply stick to the issue at hand.  Now, he’s a cancer in the important conversation to shut down the DDC.  More on this topic soon . . .

Winner:  New contributions limits.  When the Arizona State Legislature increased them to a maximum of $6,250 for city council and mayoral races eyebrows were raised.  But the policy rationale involved allowing candidates to have more control over their own fortunes rather than be a message in a bottle bouncing on the waves of dark money and independent expenditures.  The reform worked.  Candidates had the resources to run and fight back and the amount of dark money was noticeably down from previous cycles.

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The people of Arizona face a critical decision this year: continue with the failed policies of corrupt career Washington politicians or support common sense solutions that will make America great again.

Mr. Trump has tapped into the frustration that many voters feel across the state and our nation. We’re excited to hear Donald Trump Jr. speak as we work together to prevent Crooked Hillary from winning the White House.

The rally will take place in Downtown Gilbert on Friday, November 4 from 10:45 am – 11:45 am:

Gilbert Water Tower
45 W Page Ave
Gilbert, AZ 85296

RSVP here to reserve your spot!

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