Scottsdale’s Own P. T. Barnum—Bob Littlefield
By: Jim Derouin
Scottsdale’s version of P. T. Barnum, Bob Littlefield, is back. After twelve unproductive years on the City Council, he needs a job and is now running for Mayor. He wrote a column in The Scottsdale Republic, which portrays himself as a crusader for citizen issues, entitled: “Scottsdale Needs a Leader Who Will Protect Its Unique Character.” Well, that’s Bob’s version of the truth. In fact, Scottsdale has never seen a more self-promoting, negative, destructive and divisive politician in its history.
Bob argued that someone is proposing commercial development in the Sonoran Preserve. Wrong. Bob attacks everyone who disagrees with him as being an agent of a developer; literally, he sees a developer behind every tree. Wrong. Bob is also wrong when he pits North against South in bond elections; and when he was so reckless in his opposition to city bond measures that he shot down a school bond initiative that got caught in his irresponsible rhetoric. He calls that “leadership.” If that is “leadership,” we don’t need it.
He also rants against apartments and density, but, in typical fashion, Bob was for density before he was against it. He not only voted for the two tallest buildings in Scottsdale (known as the Scottsdale Waterfront Towers), but, in doing so, he also voted to impose an emergency clause which cut off the right of citizens to challenge the vote. An emergency clause is intended to be used when immediate implementation of an action is needed for matters threatening public health or safety; it was never intended for constructing a residential building. Subsequently, state law was changed to specifically prohibit the use of the emergency clause for such a purpose. Isn’t this curious conduct for someone who claims to be the Great Crusader against density? It is also important to realize that Scottsdale would benefit if more of the 100,000 commuters who work in Scottsdale, and who drive to and from Scottsdale daily, actually lived here. Apartments and condominiums, although not for most of us, represent the new entry point for many “buyers” and are attractive for many who want to both live and work in Scottsdale. Having residents being able to both live and work in Scottsdale has many benefits that shouldn’t be ignored out of hand.
Bob also continues to take credit for fighting “wasteful subsidies.” He knows full well, however, that subsidies are outlawed by the state constitution and, also, specifically in the Scottsdale City Charter. I know because I served on the Task Force that recommended adding the prohibition to the City Charter, a provision that was, subsequently, approved by voters. In short, if something is a “subsidy,” it is both illegal and unconstitutional. If something is not a “subsidy,” then a candidate shouldn’t be misleading voters by calling it one. But this approach is consistent with Bob’s strategy to be loudly against things for the sake of letting us know, loudly, that he is against things. Never let an opportunity go by to attack someone else’s idea.
In short, Bob is a garden variety professional politician; and what Bob really stands for, besides himself, is stagnation--the reduction of Scottsdale’s tax base, the decline of tax revenues, the decline of services, the decay of infrastructure and the reduction of the quality of life for City residents. He is a “free lunch” politician, arguing that we can have all the services, infrastructure and quality of life we want provided that we just do nothing. His shtick is stale; the con job is old. Bob should get a private sector job and stop pretending that he is Robin Hood. That role has already been cast.