We write to you as concerned members of the community to request that you agendize for discussion a petition submitted to you on June 29 relating to the conduct of Councilmember Guy Phillips.
As you know, Mr. Phillips challenged a proclamation by Mayor Lane relating to the wearing of masks in public to try to constrain the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our community.
City records show that Mr. Phillips’ efforts to set up the rally opposing the mayor’s proclamation were carried out using city resources including his city, tax-paid email account.
Public records demonstrate that his comments included racist statements; his rally included a Confederate flag; and one of the speakers at Mr. Phillips’ rally referred to the mayor’s proclamation as a “communist insurrection.”
Mr. Phillips characterizes all of this as merely the exercise of free speech. The improper use of city property, at a minimum, however, cannot be characterized as free speech.
Free speech can cause damage, as it has done in this case, and has consequences. Therefore, free speech is not immune from comment by members of the City Council and members of the public.
In addition, the fact is that Mr. Phillips has damaged the reputation of the city in national and international media, has embarrassed the city and has deserved the reprimands that his conduct received including those from Gov. Ducey and Sen. McSally. Both called his comments “despicable.”
City Manager Thompson held that the city has no power to consider the petition (which asked that the City Council censure Mr. Phillips).
We respectfully disagree and believe that Article 2, Section 15 of the City Charter requires that “such petition be acted upon by the council” and that refusing to at least discuss Mr. Phillips’ conduct is a dereliction of duty and a cowardly action inconsistent with the best interests of the City of Scottsdale.
As a result, we request that you, the mayor and City Council, reconsider Mr. Thompson’s decision and agendize the petition at a future council meeting for at least a proper discussion.
Editor’s Note: Don Henninger, Larry Kush and Jim Derouin are Scottsdale residents. Mr. Henninger is executive director of SCOTT; Mr. Kush is a current Planning Commission member; and Mr. Derouin is an attorney who was a part of creating the city’s ethics code.