If there's one constant in life, it's change. Change is inevitable like it or not. In Scottsdale , change often provokes controversy and is often the end result of behind the scenes political scheming. Ok- I admit it. I'm a cynic. Yes, my Kum Bi Ya moment passed and was replaced with a healthy dose of skepticism but only after witnessing local politicians in action. If things are this rank at the local level, what must they be like at the Federal level? This is far too troubling a topic to ponder for long and so I have made the decision to join the ranks of the thousands of Americans who have - tuned out and tuned in to reality TV instead of CNN or Cable 11. So what if we find comfort in the arms of the - Kardashians. This decision was years in the making. It was made only after witnessing bureaucrats and politicians doing things that would make even Satan blush and called into question their honesty, integrity and - character, all those things that are supposed to matter. It was a difficult decision and one that has consequences. You see, I was raised by a mom who instilled in me the importance of voting and assuming your civic responsibilities, the notion that one person can make a difference and that you could fight city hall armed only with your voice and a principle worth defending. Imagine how shocked I was to discover that principles were passe and that cash was a very necessary ingredient to insure successful outcomes in the political arena. In addition to cash, I also discovered that you had to possess the ability to use politically correct verbiage meaning you had to possess the ability to say things in a way that would offend no one , in a way that seldom conveyed what you actually meant . You had to learn " political speak " - a language that was often designed to confuse, mislead or justify the unjustifiable. Not only that, you had to smile and remain civil all while inserting knives into the backs of your foes. There must be some covert training camp you can attend to learn all the necessary skills for a career in politics. FYI - a conscience is optional. Yes , you know that politics is a sordid affair but seeing - is believing.
Although money talks in the world of politics and the average resident may be left to - walk ( especially in Scottsdale ) , you still have a voice. A voice is a powerful tool especially if it is used to express an independent thought. Opinions are a residents currency except in Scottsdale and other valley communities like Mesa and Tempe where the opinions pages in the Arizona Republic have been eliminated. Sadly, the Republic is the one and only newspaper in the Phoenix metro area that has managed to survive in tough economic times. Print media in general has fallen victim to the winds of change and consequently so has a residents ability to fully participate in the political process via the opinions page. Prior to the elimination of the opinions page, I had begun to ponder the value of the Scottsdale Republic as a source of legitimate news. I'd find myself checking to see if I had grabbed the National Enquirer by mistake. I had to use a magnifying glass and a guide dog to find legitimate news which is often sandwhiched in between recipes, restaurant reviews and articles on aging. Perhaps they could eliminate some of the less necessary sections in favor of the editorial and opinions pages, one of the few remaining forums where residents could express themselves. I think I can survive without knowing which dining establishments are more likely to give me food poisoning. I think I already have a firm handle on that one and have located most of them through trial and error. Either that or give me a refund since you seem to provide less news for the same subscription rate. At my house , the opinions page was the only section that wasn't used as a litter box liner- on a regular basis anyway.
Some may consider the elimination of the opinions page to be a " win, win " situation. Afterall, residents won't have to be subjected to politically inspired propoganda penned by local politicians and in turn, politicians won't have to be subjected to scathing reviews of their job performance penned by their beloved constituents. Yes, the Scottsdale Republic lite as I've dubbed it, is a mere shadow of its former self. Heck, readers were left to search in vain for their daily " fix " after the editorial page vanished without a word of explanation except from the New Times who apparently still employs - reporters. Yup, The New Times. Yes, the publication that was once more famous for its personal ads than its investigative reporting. You know the ones - " SWF seeks SWB into S & M and M & Ms " I couldn't help thinking that local politicians and other power players must have been ecstatic over the Republics decision to discourage public - input. No more complaints regarding various city schemes, proposals and projects. A gift - wrapped in the pages of the Republic and topped with a big red bow. Christmas came early this year. Certainly will make it much easier to push forward agendas that may not be citizen friendly. Not that they would have the audacity to do that. Smirk. I bet they threw one heck of a celebration. Maybe they roasted an activist or two while dining on high end fare at a local bistro - or bar. Perhaps it was a catered affair at the home of silver tongued zoning attorney, John Berry. Maybe it was held at the stylish abode of PR guru Jason Rose. Perhaps guests had yet another opportunity to gaze at renderings/etchings of his elevated park concept for the Mcdowell Rd Corridor. The Disneyland of the Southwest. Oh wait - some council members seem to be backing yet another group of power players who hope to promote their vision for an area they don't call home. ( The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance ) Of course, those folks who had long been critical of the Republic probably threw their own celebration at the home of Council member Littlefield. Yup - all the spin , I mean news that's - unfit to print. The only thing more disturbing than the decision to circumvent the publics right to express themselves would be your childs decision to pursue a career in journalism. Can you say - " Return on tuition dollars " ?
News junkies yearn for the days of real investigative reporting, for journalists who keep politicians honest and the public informed , who don't take sides or sleep with the enemy. Whether you agreed with the views expressed on the pages of the Republic or not, at least it was a forum for those who cared enough to express their opinions regarding issues that impacted their community. Scottsdale has reached a critical stage in its development, especially south Scottsdale. ( It's probably being carved up as we speak. ) Scottsdales future is being shaped by those with the money, power and position to turn their vision into reality or a residents worst nightmare.Take your pick. Now they have one less obstacle to worry about - your input. Sure you can always attend a council meeting but the reality is, most residents are watching the Kardashians. Some would argue that providing input is futile since politicians usually find a creative way to avoid using it. That's a given but a " My Turn " is better than - No Turn. With an ever dwindling number of papers to report the news and a less engaged public, who's left to police the politicians? I know. Maybe they can police themselves. Yeah - that's the ticket.
Update - Chris Coppola, Community Editor for the Scottsdale Republic announced in todays edition that they would be eliminating the Thursday edition of the Scottsdale Republic. This means the Scottsdale Republic will only be published on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. He also mentioned that they would introduce a new section titled Community Voices which appeared in todays edition. This is simply one My Turn. The reality is that many of these My Turns are reserved for elected officials and others associated with the city who are promoting some project or agenda or supporting a candidate or urging you to vote for something . I still believe that the opinions page offered a forum for average citizens to comment or vent on topics important to them. The little guy needs a voice too. If money talks - it's all we've got.