Opinion

Haskell: What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?

Posted 6/16/21

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Opinion

Haskell: What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?

Posted

To mask up or go “naked” and risk the wrath of your fellow Walmart shoppers. Moderna, Pfizer or should I gamble and go for the J&J?

Get a vaccination and continue to wear a mask? Don’t get a vaccination and continue to wear a mask? Listen to the CDC guidance or realize they’re just as confused as the rest of us and ignore it. Get elected to public office after all the votes are counted and... recounted and keep your campaign promises or ...not. Decisions, decisions. Life is full of them.

When you decide to become involved in the sordid world of politics, constituents must carefully evaluate those who would like to represent them. More decisions. Do leopards change their spots? Do wolves wear sheep’s clothing? Do you believe in Trojan horses and the tooth fairy? Do candidates for public office change their spots once victory is within their claw like grasp?

Do skunks stink? You see, politicians have turned pulling the wool over constituents eyes into an art form but constituents can’t lay all the blame at the luxury doorsteps of politicians. Did they really do their “due diligence” or did they choose to believe those campaign promises? Were they seduced by the “free” food, wine, coffee and donuts served at various campaign events?

Sorry but if cheap wine and stale donuts is all it takes to win your vote, you have placed far too low a value on your services.

After all, you reside in the luxury capital of the Southwest. They should pay a far higher price for your talents and services even if they consider you a temporary necessity/employee. The alternative? Threaten to take your services to the dark side and become a developer’s shill. The compensation is far better ... so I hear.

And the perks.... Instead of coffee and donuts, wine and a cracker you can hob nob with Scottsdale “elites.” The movers, the shakers, the shills. The food might be a tad more gourmet too. Yes, instead of installing yard signs for candidates and risking neighborhood alienation, walking neighborhoods to gather petition signatures, attending tedious candidate forums where they make promises they have no intention of keeping, you can get paid to represent a neighborhoods’, I mean a developers’, best interests.

Yes, pretend to be one of the little guys. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. All of the perks and no cheap wine or stale donuts. Make promises no one has any intention of keeping like a grocery store is coming to your neighborhood but not in your lifetime. Yes, shadowy figures pulling strings and making side deals in the background. Who cares what the neighbors need or want. Neighbors are used to getting things they don’t want, never asked for and don’t need.

Before I go any further and risk alienating the two readers I have left, anything I say should not be used against me. I am currently under the influence of mind altering pharmaceuticals manufactured by J&J thanks to a fracture. Barring any unforeseen side effects I should be able to complete this dirge much to the chagrin of the development community, various shills and assorted politicians.

I begin my analysis of any candidate for elected office by assuming ... the worst. Ok. I’m a cynic. I also live by the motto trust but verify. Candidates for a $13 an hour job often have to undergo background checks, drug screens etc. But, if you are interviewing for the all important role of representing your community all it takes is word of mouth recommendations, glitzy campaign signs, well produced campaign ads preferably with a shot of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in the background and a few endorsements from well respected organizations. Fire fighters, BLM — oh wait no, police unions — the Chamber of Commerce.

Oh wait. I almost forgot. The all important campaign contribution courtesy of those with ties to the development community, bar owners and other influencers. They pay so you (residents) can’t play. The first rule of local politics? Silence the “naysayers,” the neighborhood nobodies. Never fear. The developers and the politicians who represent them have the situation under control. They live by the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s where the wolf in sheep’s clothing comes in. Candidates say and do all the right things to attract those who may not be squarely in their high rise camp. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So, what’s an “in the closet” pro-development candidate to do? Blend in with your surroundings much like a chameleon. Convince unsuspecting residents that you are one of them. Nope, Scottsdale will not become the premier “cell block” city under your reign. Well, until after the election when you can reveal your true colors.

I realize the politician/resident relationship is a fragile one. It’s not a longterm commitment. More like the lifespan of a Kardashian marriage or a J-Lo relationship but I can handle that. I’m tough. I’ll survive and live... to vote you out of office.

As I view the current state of the world, I realize I was lucky to grow up in the era I did. A time when things were simpler, less complicated. A time when actions had consequences, a harsh reality I became intimately acquainted with, thanks to my grandmother and a trusty hairbrush dubbed the “enforcer.”

Too bad politicians weren’t disciplined by my grandmother. “What part of no don’t you understand?” she was fond of asking. I understood the concept but had trouble with the application.

To politicians, developers and their PR teams and neighborhood “outreach consultants”I say, what part of no don’t you understand? I believe residents sent a clear message regarding the road the city is headed down. They overwhelmingly chose to elect “thoughtful growth” candidates, my preferred replacement for terms like no-growth-naysayers used by supporters of the development community.

Apparently, residents seem to feel we are saturated with prisons. Yes, cellblocks, I mean apartments, are being erected on every corner yet we are still unable to house the average resident. No, this is Scottsdale and these luxury prisons only house the elite, white collar inmates.

Sigh. Local news recently reported on the disparity between incomes in the area and rapidly rising rents. Sadly, developers and some politicians are masters of deception and skilled at circumventing the will of residents.

For example, two particularly popular games with this crowd are The Art of the Deal and my favorite, Let’s Make a Deal. An example of how Let’s Make a Deal is played. The goal? To convince residents that the deal offered by the developer is a win, win for everyone. Step one. Try to convince everyone that another massive street-clogging project is in the communities’ best interest.

Sweeten the pot with a pinch of creativity and a touch of deception. Make an offer the community can’t refuse. The Art of the Deal - Godfather style. Got a rare historic property that needs to be preserved? Developers to the rescue.

We want to preserve and protect Scottsdale’s unique character and charm you see. And what better way to preserve a historic property? Yes, surround it with a fortress-like structure resembling Trump Tower.

The Art of the Deal you see. Scottsdale does not boast as many historic properties as other cities so this “scam” can’t be used too many times. I am not certain that “Let’s Make a Deal” is the best way to preserve historic properties.

They can always resort to the ever popular and oh so transparent “community benefit” ploy. Appease those pesky neighbors by offering them something they need. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. An example. We want more apartments and hotels. You get a grocery store? Wink, wink.

Sports franchises and other entities are another match made in heaven. To sell you on the benefits of allowing them to grace your neighborhood they sweeten the pot with other amenities that look good on paper. Watch for phrases like “community benefit.” While this may sound like a good deal, the reality for neighborhoods may be far different. Another technique? Threats. Hey, you better take this deal because the alternatives are worse.

Hmmm... Every development deal is already worse than the last so what’s your point?

So, to the development community and their allies I say, what part of no don’t you understand? Voters sent a rather clear message in the last election.

Perhaps a more compelling argument against over-development than resident outrage are dwindling water supplies and rising summer temperatures made worse by the heat island effect. Note. A heat island bears no resemblance to a tropical island. We live in a desert even though the development community seems to be unaware of this.

A healthy flow of $$$$ seems to be more critical than a dwindling flow of H2O. Numerous articles in the paper have focused on dwindling groundwater supplies. But wait, another recent article claimed this was not a crisis. Hmmm, let’s see. You are packing the entire population of California and other states into a desert but don’t worry.

We have it under control. Nothing to see here. Move along. The official response from the development community and their PR teams?

I have to smile at how we brush off looming disasters like evaporating water supplies and rising temperatures. A recent conversation I had with a new neighbor (from California) illustrates this point. As she regaled me with the typical California fairytale, we can afford three homes here for the price of one in California (Makes Arizona residents feel all warm and fuzzy inside since they are no longer able to afford a closet.)

I mentioned our looming water crisis to see if this would pique her interest. With that typical beach blasse, California attitude she responds, “Water shortage? Oh, we had those in California. All that meant was that we had to limit the use of our dishwasher.”

Oh...ok. Glad we won’t have to make any real sacrifices. Wish we all could be California girls. I guarantee you the first time Scottsdale’s pampered population turns on their gold plated faucets and are greeted with the sound of silence, their household staff will be loading moving trucks faster than you can say up a creek ...with no water.

Another recent newspaper article focused on the impact of rising temperatures on Arizona’s livability. How hot is too hot?

So, to the development community I ask, how will your profit driven over development of the area contribute to these problems? Do you care? Any plans to address these issues or when the well runs dry will you vacate the area faster than Democrats at a Trump rally? Sure he’s gone but never forgotten.

Yes, all the money in the world can’t buy nonexistent water. Might want to ponder this potential “dishwasher” problem as we move forward at warp speed and litter the desert with multi-family housing, theme park attractions, water parks, casinos and the like.

Finally, a word of advice for council members. I know how you value citizen input. Value citizen input as much as you did when you were campaigning. You remember. Non-stop emails where you solicited our opinions on hot button issues.

I liken the resident, council member relationship to a romantic relationship. Early in the relationship, council-wannabes are very solicitous. They value your input and shower you with attention. Once they are elected, the relationship seems to sour. Your emails are ignored, your calls go unanswered.

Yes, the love is gone. They never write, call or acknowledge you in public. It is similar to a bad break up where your significant other enters the witness protection program to avoid you.

I am not ready to say that our newly elected council has sold out to developers. One vote does not establish a pattern. You will never agree with them on every issue or every vote but on the issues they campaigned on, they need to remember that their stance on those issues got them elected.

Remember to fight for the community you want. Don’t settle for the one they think you should have.

Editor’s Note: Lisa Haskell is a resident of Scottsdale.

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