Several years ago President Trump asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do away with tradition and the filibuster in order to get more of his priorities passed. Though surely tempted while having the power to do so McConnell resisted the request, saying it wouldn’t be good for democracy or America.
Unfortunately, Scottsdale didn’t have enough Mitch McConnells this week.
Indeed, it was a low point in recent city history and certainly for the new City Council “majority.”
While we agree with new Mayor David Ortega on several policy fronts including the upcoming agenda item to finally pass a non-discrimination ordinance there’s no doubt he has Nixonian tendencies.
That reared its head over the past week as he spearheaded a bizarre effort to bounce Planning Commissioner Prescott Smith from the body. Never mind that Smith has just a year left in his term.
Ortega won the election and has earned the right to prioritize pretty much what he wants no matter how brazen and bizarre it may be. But last we checked we hadn’t heard a single cry for Smith’s scalp, save for Ortega.
That Councilmembers Betty Janik, Tom Durham and Kathy Littlefield went along with this ploy was highly disappointing, especially Janik. She often talked about more unity during her campaign. This was just the opposite.
Indeed, a fine, young man whose broader family has long cared for Scottsdale was dragged through the mud because of the whims of one man. Each of these three are better than this. And they know it. Instead of standing on principle as Mitch McConnell did they kowtowed to their leader. It’s unbecoming and beneath each. Principle would call on one of them, any of them, to make a motion to reconsider this matter at the next council meeting. Again, he only has one year left in his term. Show Smith some dignity rather than deflate him. Besides, it’s not as if the Planning Commission is going to be terribly busy over the next year. The broader business community is already deciding to deploy capital outside of Scottsdale because of the perceived difficulties of now dealing with it.
But there was one good thing that came of this debacle. And it may be the first time we have EVER agreed with Scottsdale political activist John Washington. In opining on the Smith situation Washington said there was a broader issue at play. He proposes changing the way Planning Commissioners are appointed. Right now it is by majority vote. Instead, Washington suggests allowing each councilmember an appointment. We concur. Washington’s reasoning that this will provide a more representative body is persuasive. His positing is a relative of why we also support a move to a hybrid district system for the city too.
Notably and with a little character and courage there can be a silver lining to this sad chapter in Scottsdale.
Put Smith back in to serve the final year of his term. And reform the process as Washington suggests. That’s not only the right and best thing to do but it would be a win-win for the city, and place result over retribution.