Receiving letters

For well over seven months, the Scottsdale City Council has felt the need to hold their City Council meetings behind closed doors. 

 Where formerly, the public was a “welcome” guest to participate and voice its approval or disapproval of issues that came up for a vote, that option now does not exist. What it has created is an outright authoritarian/autocratic City Council, not a democratic one.

Merriam Webster’s definition of democratic, “relating to, or available to the broad masses of people.”  

By closing the doors of Council meetings to the public and refusing to make any effort to open up, it ignores alternatives such as holding meetings at Scottsdale Arts, which is very large and where distancing not an issue and where broadcasting from there is possible as that technology exists. Witness the mayoral debate there.  

By shutting out the citizens from participating in the democratic process, the City Council has created a great deal of angst and anger from the residents. The action of closing the doors to the public is not transparent, nor is it democratic.  

In August, Councilman Guy Phillips was shot down by his Council peers to let the public in Council meetings.  On Oct. 20, Mr. Phillips made a motion to work toward opening either the Scottsdale Arts or KIVA to the public. 

 Ms. Littlefield seconded Mr. Phillips’ motion, yet no one else on the Council even would vote to put the issue on the agenda for discussion. 

 For the moment the “gang of 4” has become the “gang of 5.”  This City Council does not want you present at meetings. Five of seven members do not want you present. That is 71 percent of the Council membership.

The reason why this council does not want the citizens present, in person, is quite obvious.  The lame-duck Council in the next several weeks will be making decisions on some very controversial issues, primarily considering new development deals, zoning variances, expanded height and breadth of proposed developments, limited setbacks, and of course subsidizing the developers.  

We all know how the citizens feel about bigger and taller – witness the defeat of Southbridge ll. 

This City Council is fearful of citizen input that might not be in accordance with their collective point of view on controversial issues. 

We are constantly told Scottsdale is special.  Well special ought to mean smarter – and I don’t see it.  

Several other cities in The Valley have successfully figured out solutions to this issue, but our City Council is unable to do so.  We might be special. Wish I could say the same for our elected officials.

What has happened to our participatory democracy?  Simple answer is that our City Council has taken it away from its citizens.  They have violated the trust we granted to them.  City Hall is for all of us, not just the governing seven.

Unlock city hall – let the residents in.

-Jim Bloch