Richard Nixon had an enemies list. It only served scandal well.
That’s why we took note of Scottsdale activist Mike Norton – along with Larry Kush – who raised an interesting question in a recent opinion piece in the Scottsdale Independent.
They queried whether Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega’s desire to designate the Soleri Bridge area at the Scottsdale Waterfront a “park,” and even surround and expand it with irregularly shaped city parcels and parking lots near it had questionable motives. You can learn more about the Ortega plan here.
More specifically, Norton and Kush asked whether the proposal is little more than an attempt to impede any future plans by Carter Unger to redevelop major family holdings along the canal? Ortega was a leading critic of Unger’s Southbridge II and often criticized it on the campaign trail.
Southbridge II had positives and negatives. We recognized both which left us agnostic on the proposal. Polling showed voters were also split leading up the possibility of a referendum on the subject. But with a new council majority constituted of people who opposed Southbridge II the likelihood of it returning in that form, or passing, any time in the near future is remote at best.
That’s why there appears to be some merit to Norton’s claim. We agree with Ortega that some type of enhanced status for Soleri’s notable work might be advantageous. But to expand the notion to include irregularly shaped city slivers adjacent because it will somehow aid the Soleri area or the popular Canal Convergence? Give us a break. How practical it will be for Scottsdale’s well-heeled crowd, literally, to clamber down the banks of the canal as they twist ankles en route to the trash receptacles and back of buildings the parcels currently house.
Rather than reward Ortega’s apparent retribution the rest of the council should maintain these parcels as they are to facilitate future, private-sector redevelopment on terms IT wants. There can’t be another Southbridge II without their approval. But why harm smaller scale efforts?
Ortega deserves credit for prevailing in an election when few thought he would or could. Indeed, he was supported by few notables in the community, especially in the business sector. All major endorsements and most financial support flowed to Lisa Borowsky.
But Ortega needs to get over it. Good leadership and politics is about addition not subtraction. Grudges nearly always tank the instigator because they lead to unethical behavior in office. If one member of the Scottsdale City Council wants to go down this path so be it. We hope to be wrong. But if he does it will be up to the rest of the City Council to conduct its business otherwise, basing policy not on a Nixonian approach to governance, but an ethical, meritorious one.