Howard’s End?

Scottsdale resident Howard Myers was an important and critical voice that led to the Proposition 420 movement in Scottsdale.  Passed by a 71% margin on November 6th the vote stopped the ill-conceived Desert Discovery Center and enshrined more rights to city citizens when it comes to future changes in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

For that, Mr. Myers and many others deserve appreciation.

Yet, the great question in Scottsdale these days is whether a group that unified in opposition to a project, and a perception the Scottsdale City Council was not listening, can stay together in support of something else, effecting additional change.

The early indications suggest this is unlikely.

Proposition 420 leader Jason Alexander is soon to be likely running for City Council and dealing with those dynamics.  The big man and big voice that is Mike Norton may be interested in focusing on key, innovative educational initiatives, a passion for which he is well suited.  Other Proposition 420 enthusiasts have already cast their lot with mayoral aspirant John Karolzak which they will soon regret and be embarrassed by.  So what about Howard Myers?  It was his intellectual heft that largely led to pursuing a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center.

To analyze Myers’ behavior since the landmark vote allow us to invoke the movie Howard’s End.  It was a 1992 film based on last century class relations in Britain.  On November 26th Myers’ stood before the City Council and opined in such a way as to wonder if he is a contemplating class relations, and warfare, of a different kind in Scottsdale.

Myers’ extrapolated an anti-development, anti-business message from the city’s 2018 election results.  Indeed he said the following: “There’s been a lot of pissed off residents and they don’t like the direction that the city is taking and they don’t trust the City Council to keep it going in the right direction.”

Well, when it comes to whether Scottsdale is heading in the “right direction” the last major poll taken before the Proposition 420 and council candidate results showed voters thinking the city was heading in the right direction, as opposed to wrong track, by a 76%-15% margin.

So what to make of this?  That Scottsdale’s discerning, deliberative side is alive and well.  After all, it was and is quite easy to dislike the Desert Discovery Center and still believe the city is one amazing place to live.  To distill Proposition 420 as anti-development or anti-business as Myers’ suggested is wishful thinking on his part.

Myers’ voice is always one to be appreciated and respected.  We do.  But if he embarks on turning his newfound political capital to a jihad against Scottsdale business he may find what happened to Bob Littlefield in 2016 to be just a warm up act. That would be unfortunate and unnecessary.  For like so many that embraced Proposition 420 we can all unite around quality not quantity when it comes to development in Scottsdale.  But to adopt an approach that resembles what the Sierra Club tried to do once upon a time in Arizona, a measure and notion that was ultimately crushed, well that would end a little different for Howard than what happened on November 6th.