Six More Months of Possible Changes

This is the year a lot of things could change for our city.
When we all look back on 2016, we'll recall it was the year a crusade began that could end up killing what some thought was going to be the city's Next Big Idea: the Desert Discovery Center.  It's the year that any discussion of light rail went from simply being taboo to being terminated.   And it may also be the year when the Chamber of Commerce is officially declared just a business club that no longer has influence on important issues.  
Most significantly ... 2016 could be the period in which mainstream opinion leaders who thought they could rest on their laurels were displaced by the voices of grassroots groups who are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore."
These aren't predictions, just possibilities - especially if current trends continue.  And if they do, our city may be reaching a turning point. 
But don't jump to conclusions about the City Council race. The composition of the Council isn't expected to change.  With only four candidates running, voters will likely return incumbents Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte and Guy Phillips.  All three have the name identification and money to motivate voters. The only other candidate, successful businessman Dan Schweiker, may be in the wrong place at the wrong time - and he could be the victim of what feisty baseball legend Leo Durocher used to say: "Nice guys finish last."
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail ... after Bill Crawford withdrew from the mayoral contest, the race between Jim Lane and Bob Littlefield has turned into the nasty two-man duel that was originally predicted. Lane and Littlefield not only have political differences - their perceptions of the city are diametrically opposed.
Proving that political hyperbole is alive and well in the Lane camp, the Mayor is accusing Littlefield of making Scottsdale sound like Detroit.  Littlefield is also starting to get under Lane's skin.  "People who know me will easily attest to the fact that I am not an angry or unreasonable guy," Mayor Lane wrote to his supporters.  "I am now however astonished to the point of anger that someone who is running for mayor has such an absurdly negative view of our city and our accomplishments since our recovery from the worst economic downturn that Scottsdale has ever endured."
And Littlefield, no stranger to bombastic rhetoric, recently wrote: "If the Mayoral campaign focuses on his (Lane's) record he will be defeated in a landslide, so he is desperate to divert the conversation to any other subject.  He most certainly does not want to contrast his voting record with my record of consistently supporting Scottsdale residents during my 12-plus years on the City Council."
Not surprisingly, Mayor Lane has raised five times as much  money as former Councilman Littlefield, who has never been a prolific fundraiser.  The funding differential could be the game changer - particularly in a general election in which nearly 100,000 residents are expected to vote.  Lane will have the resources to reach most of those voters ... Littlefield won't.
However, the contentious presidential election that's driving voter turnout will also bring out more conservative voters - whether they're pro-Trump or anti-Clinton.  That could help level the playing field for Littlefield, a populist, anti-establishment candidate.
With six months left in 2016, anything may still be possible:
Gallery owners may finally figure out that shopping patterns and downtown demographics have changed, so Fashion Square will likely be the business, retail and residential hub of downtown. Applications to build more apartments may slow down.  And hopefully the Cultural Council's new branding campaign won't be too little too late.
If there's truth to the rumor that the Scottsdale Independent will be increasing the size of it's staff later this year, the Scottsdale Republic may cry uncle and stop pretending to publish a real newspaper.
And who knows ... 2016 just may be the year the city hires a new city manager who stays more than two years.