Jini Simpson’s article attacked Julie Pace and defended the mayor, Paul Dembow and Anna Thomasson for voting in favor of moving forward with a proposal by the Sanctuary Resort to build a five-unit wedding and party complex with a 24-foot rooftop bar overlooking and adjacent to a one-acre residence.
First, it is gratifying that Simpson agrees with Julie Pace that the party complex was, in her words, a “terrible” resort proposal. Too bad the mayor voted for the proposal to move forward.
Simpson’s defense of council members Dembow and Thomasson is, in substance, that “they-expressed-concern-about-the-proposal-before-they-joined-the-Mayor-in-voting-for-it.” Simpson has taken a page out of John Kerry’s “I voted against it before I voted for it” school of political obfuscation.
Her argument that the mayor was justified in voting for the proposal because he could submit it to the Planning Commission and deal with it when it returned to council later fails to address that Julie Pace proposed that the council give a Statement of Direction that the council oppose, as a policy matter, resort proposals that encroach on single family neighborhoods, especially party houses.
The mayor and council members Dembow and Thomasson voted against including that key item as part of a Statement of Direction. Why?
Key votes like this one show a person’s true priorities. There are six upcoming redevelopment proposals coming before council.
These three also “passed-the-buck” to the unelected Planning Commission so the mayor and council could duck the issue and put residents and staff through a long process of mobilizing to oppose the party house proposal. The mayor had the opportunity to take a stand, and instead he chose a “duck-and-cover” approach rather than leadership.
Not mentioned in Simpson’s article is that after the mayor and council failed to vote in support of residents on Feb. 14, 2019, Pace worked all night to write an article and create a full page ad at her own personal expense, to alert residents to what had happened so they could have input.
Pace using a public process to inform residents and lead a grassroots effort to stop the proposal was successful. Stopping the proposal early avoided wasting town staff resources and drama and stress among the community for the next year fighting the issue.
Shortly after the Feb. 14, 2019, council meeting, I met with Simpson at her home to discuss what happened at the council meeting and Pace’s article that alerted residents to the threat of the resort’s proposed party house adjacent to a person in their 80s who owned the home for 50 years.
At that time, Simpson did not express any criticism about the accuracy, procedures or substance as to what Pace had done at the council meeting.
Simpson’s concern was that reporting the 4 to 3 council vote to move forward with the party house proposal made Thomasson look bad. That was Simpson’s focus.
I told Simpson that Thomasson should not have followed the mayor and Dembow. Instead she should have stood up for residents like Pace, Ellen Andeen and Scott Moore did when they voted no on the resort’s party house proposal moving forward.
A close reading of Simpson’s article reveals that she did not say that the mayor mustered a single word in support of residents while he voted against the resident who would have had her peaceful home ruined forever.
The mayor’s vote supported profits and his close relationship with the resort developers over our residents. There is no other way to construe the facts.
This is a critical election and residents have a choice. Pace is a consistent supporter for residents and against over-development. Pace’s track record is strong to preserve Paradise Valley’s quality of life. Actions count, not words.
Simpson has been an active and long term advocate for the Ritz project. I want to see the Ritz project succeed, but her article reflects her pro-resort development priorities.
In this election, I am supporting the three preservationists: Pace, Ellen Andeen and Christine Labelle. They get along, collaborate, are fair business professionals and genuine people who are providing service in these volunteer positions for the right reasons.
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