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Guest Commentary

Kush: Scottsdale pulls the welcome mat


Recently, I had the privilege of attending the “top off” ceremony (top floor concrete poured) for the 11-story Caesar’s Hotel currently under way next to Scottsdale Fashion Square.

This 11-story destination hotel will prove to be a giant economic generator for old town Scottsdale. As is usually the case, the event was attended by numerous business and political leaders to include Mayor Ortega and Council person Solange Whitehead.

Mayor Ortega opened the event to those in attendance with a welcoming speech.

He used the usual canned speech such as “Welcome to Scottsdale” and how impressed he was with the building. All of us who are familiar with the mayor’s lack of vision and general opposition to anything like this hotel in downtown Scottsdale were taken aback by the general hypocrisy of his words. It would have been more truthful if he had instead said “welcome to Scottsdale, now go home.”

No mayor, in the history of Scottsdale, has been less welcoming than this mayor. Only this week, Mayor Ortega (along with his anti-growth, past-loving, cronies, Solange Whitehead and Kathy Littlefield) strongly endorsed the New Downtown Area Plan, which effectively eliminates or severely restricts the development rights of downtown landowners, a plan which includes language never allowing anything even slightly resembling the Caesars hotel to be build in the plan area.

Our mayor has made no secret that he wishes the downtown area to stay as it is or, if possible, revert to the days when you could hitch your horse to a post in Old Town. It should be noted that this plan, as written, is in direct violation of the law as outlined in Proposition 207 passed by voters a few years back. But that is an issue deserving of its own article.

Mayor Ortega also is anti-housing for he opposes practically every new multi-family project put forth, to include those that are being proposed next to a major hospital aimed at providing much needed housing for nurses; police and fire fighters.

Like most of us, the mayor enjoys all of the many services available to Scottsdale residents so long as the service people needed for those endeavors live somewhere other than in Scottsdale. By example, several months ago, when a representative from the Arizona Multifamily Association testified at a council meeting about Scottsdale’s severe housing shortage, the mayor became enraged and chased the speaker away from the podium.

Last, but certainly not least, our mayor made the national news to include the New York Times and Washington Post and NBC Evening News over his callous response to the water needs of some 1,000 residents of the Rio Verde neighborhood, when he shut off the valve providing them with their water.

Scottsdale boasts that it is a “Golden Rule” city. I do not think that denying people housing; a vibrant downtown or water is in anyone’s definition of the Golden rule.

Scottsdale deserves better.