The Desert "Distraction" Center

It's approaching two years that the non-stop noise surrounding the Desert Discovery Center has droned on and drowned out almost everything else.

The negativity has gone viral.    

Good people have been the target of character assassinations. City Council members have had their integrity impugned. Name-calling is now normal and finger-pointing commonplace.  Hostility has reached new heights ... or depths, depending on perspective.   

Consequently, politics are impacting policies.

One of the most egregious examples is the language for increasing the sales tax proposal that will appear on the November ballot.  Voters will be assured that if they approve a 0.10% sales tax increase for transportation projects: IN NO EVENT SHALL SUCH FUNDS BE USED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A DESERT DISCOVERY CENTER OR FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF ANY IMPROVEMENTS IN THE MCDOWELL SONORAN PRESERVE.

The description of the proposal is the first time in recent memory that ballot language has spelled out what funds from a voter-approved proposal can NOT be used for.

By including this peculiar and unprecedented language, the City of Scottsdale is breaking new ground - and possibly digging itself a hole for future elections.  But for now, we at least know that the bureaucrats can be bullied into bastardizing an election ballot.

Meanwhile ... people with their hair on fire over the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE have helped push other important issues to the back burner.

For years, Councilman David Smith has been telling anyone who will listen that the city's infrastructure is degrading at the rate of $100 million a year.  Currently, the city estimates there are $800 million in restoration and replacement projects that should be addressed.  Smith's warnings fell on deaf ears at the polls in 2013 and 2015.  The majority of his colleagues on the City Council have also been reluctant to heed his caution about deteriorating infrastructure.   

Councilmembers say they will "consider" placing a bond proposal on the ballot in 2019 when the cost of catching up on infrastructure projects will probably be pushing $1 billion.  It would be hard to refute someone who says:  "We'll believe it when we see it." After all, this is a council that can't agree on what time it is let alone reach a consensus on something as important as a bond proposal.

The DDC/Desert EDGE isn't just dominating the political discussion ... it's also distracting the City Council and citizens from a dialogue about other critical issues like the funding for the renovations being required of Scottsdale Stadium, maintenance of Indian Bend Wash and enhancing the environment on and around the most traveled banks of our canal system.  Other issues worthy of discussion include how to finally achieve full staffing of the Fire Department to control costly overtime issues, continuing to coordinate the economic evolution of downtown and maintaining the momentum to revitalize the McDowell Road Corridor.  

There's plenty to talk about besides DDC/Desert EDGE.