On August 2nd Paradise Valley voters said adios to long-time Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow. Long a skinny dipper in the cesspool, Dembow’s demise is both reason for celebration and opportunity to make reforms due to his abuses and abhorrence.
The first is term limits. The new Town Council should take the notion up as one of its initial orders of business, passing a referral to voters in 2024 limiting council and mayoral terms to two or three. Right now, there are no limits. There is no better example of the problems that accrue when someone is in power too long than Dembow. Politicians start to believe it is their seat rather than the people’s. That they are above norms, ethics and the laws. Fortunately, voters decisively said no to his fourth term. But that doesn’t mean that like Scottsdale, Phoenix and the State of Arizona term limits shouldn’t be a part of good governance in Paradise Valley. If it undertakes this policy change, town leaders should also ask voters to extend the mayoral term from 2 to 4 years.
The second reform that should result from the Dembow debacle is a better Ethics Committee, Commission or process to evaluate transgressions. Perhaps this should consist of community leaders, like other commissions, or be a rotating subset of the Town Council. But either way there needs to be more teeth and better processes because Dembow got away with far too much, far too long.
Even with bad councilmembers good can come from them. These are just two examples how Paradise Valley can do so after enduring, then dismissing, Dembow.