Councilmember Solange Whitehead writes that we should appreciate the quality of the Scottsdale’s management team, whether it be the charter officers or the many specialists who oversee police, fire, water, waste management, streets, parks and the many other services and amenities that we enjoy. Of course we should appreciate city management and staff.
The real issue is that she should let them do their jobs rather than interfering with them and using them for her own political purposes.
City code provides that administrative authority in the city is “vested solely in the city manager and other charter officers.” It further provides that council members “may not interfere with the authority of the charter officers ... by giving orders or explicit directions or demands ... regarding city matters to any subordinates of” city charter officers including the city manager.
This is old stuff; it has been on the books for more than a decade. Regardless, the fact is that Councilmember Whitehead consistently uses city staff to promote her personal agenda and pays no regard to lines of authority in city hall.
Everyone knows that the city has a housing shortage; that the city’s population is aging; that we are losing families with school age children; that we are losing our police and fire employees; that there is a significant deficit in the pension fund for our police and fire personnel; that city employees cannot find living space in Scottsdale, much less afford to live here; and that we continue to face a critical risk of a disastrous fire in the Preserve that puts everyone in north Scottsdale at risk.
And while these crises are going on, what is Councilmember Whitehead doing: She is waging a vendetta against the DC Ranch Homeowner’s Association and its residents, trying to prevent them from removing nuisance trees that are destroying their sidewalks, plumbing and houses.
She is using her position to pressure city staff to take enforcement actions against private property home owners who want to remove these nuisance trees. If ever the citizens of Scottsdale wanted an example of socialism close to home, this is it. She needs to be told by voters that she is merely a member of the City Council; she is not the city manager. And, also, she needs to be told that private property rights still exist in the city of Scottsdale.
Because of these actions, the lives of more than 100 homeowners in DC Ranch have been turned upside down for a year. At least six law firms are now involved and threatening letters have become the way that residents communicate with each other. All because Councilmember Whitehead thinks that it’s somehow the city’s job to determine when private property owners can cut down their own trees.
The city has no tree code. None. The city cannot prohibit private property owners from cutting down trees on their own land. The city views such issues as civil in nature and not subject to the city’s enforcement authority.
Other cities deal with this same tree (the infamous sissoo tree) and the damage it causes in a simple and straight forward manner. Gilbert notified its residents who own this type of tree that they are responsible for any damage their trees cause — including breaking up sidewalks, curbs, streets, gutters and utility lines. Buckeye simply prohibits these trees; and, like Gilbert, Buckeye won’t spend a dime of its funds on repairs. If you break it, you own it — simple.
It is remarkable how complicated and costly Councilmember Whitehead has made this simple issue. It is equally remarkable how little respect she has for the law and the rights of private property owners. And it is most remarkable how she can grind an entire city to a halt with the problems she creates.
Whitehead is a very pleasant and likeable person. She’d make a great neighbor. That, however, is not the issue. The issue is that she disrespects personal property rights and is the most disruptive council member in memory. It is time for voters to take their city back and protect their property rights from government intrusion — intrusion, ironically, that has no basis whatsoever in city code.
Enough is enough. Yes to Scottsdale; and no to the sissoo, socialism and Solange. Get out of the rabbit hole.
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